The One Campaign recently selected 5 “back to school” books about global development. The list is good, certainly better than this list compiled by TED. Anyway, back to the list by the One Campaign, the five books they suggest are:
“Every Day is for the Thief” by Teju Cole // I’m currently reading this book. It is excellent so far. Being that this is the only book in this list that could be characterized as a novel, it may stick out for many people simply interested in global development.
“The Idealist” by Nina Munk” // If you are a regular reader of this blog, you’ve read my seemingly constant praise for this book. Update: I still think it is excellent and a MUST read.
“The Bright Continent” by Dayo Olopade // Haven’t read it but have heard great things! If you’re from the school of thought that says that development most basically a localized political struggle then, I think, you’ll appreciate this book.
“Poor Numbers” by Morten Jerven // Jerven is one of the leaders in heavy duty statistical analysis on poverty and development around the world. This book is an excellent snapshot of what statistical analysis can and cannot do for those fighting poverty.
“The Tyranny of Experts” by Bill Easterly // If you like Bill Easterly, you’ll probably like this book. If you don’t like Bill Easterly, you’ll probably resent it.
As a former professor recently put it:
Easterly has many good things to say, but his acerbic personality and need to be nasty to those who don’t share his views detracts from his argument. He’s also very “economic,” seeming to assume that the only thing that really matters in life is how much stuff people have. While he’s right that incentives matter and that self-interest is a powerful motivator, there are also other sources of motivation (e.g. love, community spirit, ethical compasses) that need recognition and consideration. An excellent book that makes a somewhat similar point to Easterly, but is more holistic and ultimately more coherent, is The Locust Effect by Gary Haugen and Victor Boutros. (Reviewed by me here)
A couple other books I’d add to a list of essentials:
“The Great Escape” by Angus Deaton
“Aid at the Edge of Chaos” by Ben Ramalingam
“Adapt” by Tim Harford
and of course: