The Wealth and Poverty of Nations

Why Some Are So Rich and Some So Poor

David S. Landes (Author, Harvard University)


"Readers cannot but be provoked and stimulated by this splendidly iconoclastic and refreshing book."—Andrew Porter, New York Times Book Review

The Wealth and Poverty of Nations is David S. Landes's acclaimed, best-selling exploration of one of the most contentious and hotly debated questions of our time: Why do some nations achieve economic success while others remain mired in poverty? The answer, as Landes definitively illustrates, is a complex interplay of cultural mores and historical circumstance. Rich with anecdotal evidence, piercing analysis, and a truly astonishing range of erudition, The Wealth and Poverty of Nations is a "picture of enormous sweep and brilliant insight" (Kenneth Arrow) as well as one of the most audaciously ambitious works of history in decades.

For the paperback edition, Landes has written a new epilogue, in which he takes account of Asian financial crisises and the international tension between overconfidence and reality.

Book Details

  • Paperback
  • May 1999
  • ISBN 978-0-393-31888-3
  • 6.1 × 9.2 in / 688 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide including Canada, but excluding the British Commonwealth and the European Union.

Endorsements & Reviews

“Powerful and lucid.... There are few historians who would not be proud to be the author of this book.” — Eric Hobsbawm, Los Angeles Times

“Mr. Landes writes with verve and gusto.... This is indeed good history.” — Douglass C. North, Wall Street Journal

“You cannot even begin to think about problems of economic development and convergence without knowing the story that Landes tells. ...I know of no better place to start thinking about the wealth and poverty of nations.” — J. Bradford DeLong, Washington Post

“Enormously erudite and provocative.... Never less than scintillating, witty, and brilliant.” — Kirkus Reviews

“Truly wonderful. No question that this will establish David Landes as preeminent in his field and in his time.” — John Kenneth Galbraith

“A picture of enormous sweep and brilliant insight... embodied in a light and vigorous prose which carries the reader along irresistibly.” — Kenneth Arrow

“A masterly survey... with verve, broad vision, and a whole series of sharp opinions that he is not shy about stating plainly.” — Robert Solow

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