It is always a pleasure to discover Paul Collier’s latest thoughts. I have read far too many books on international relations that are turgid, repetitive and infuriating, a vehicle through which an angry academic can vent his rage at America and the West while displaying an abject ignorance of economics, statistics and reality. Not so Collier’s work, which is always illuminating and grounded in rigorous social science, including game theory. He is genuinely concerned with making the world a better place, and even when his thesis is ultimately unconvincing, as is the case this time, his ideas always help improve one’s own thinking.
Collier compares the challenge facing today’s wealthy countries (which he calls the zone of prosperity) with America’s response to the looming European crisis of the late 1940s. Washington, motivated by a combination of self-interest and genuine concern, realised it had to get serious if it wished to prevent