reat Divergence by Pomeranz and Why Nations Fail by A&R.

The coursework for this module is to be an essay written in continuous prose, containing up to a maximum of 2500 words. The content of the coursework will be a critical review of two

books selected from a list. I chose The Great Divergence by Pomeranz and Why Nations Fail by A&R.

Listed under each book title are a few book reviews that you can and should use in writing your essay. These are reviews written by academics and they should give you an idea about how a

critique is done and what to criticize. You should definitely read them and cite them in your coursework. You may also find some more academic reviews on your own (please stick to academic

journals and if you are unsure whether a particular review is fair game, email me). You will also note that some of the book authors also appear elsewhere as book reviewers. That makes for another interesting aspect of the whole exercise. It may be a good idea to read some of the (shortest) book

reviews before you pick your two titles.

Now, what exactly am I looking for, what am I expecting in your coursework? What will earn you a 70+/100 on this assignment? Here are a few tips:

• Your coursework should contain a brief overview of what’s in each book. Notice how some of the reviews summarize the content even chapter by chapter.

• Make sure you capture the underlying logic of each book’s argument correctly and honestly. You want to capture the essence of the argument but also say something about the nuance the

author is capable of. You must be able to read between the lines and tease out some of the unspoken assumptions on which the author relies. Your coursework should say a few things

about what kind of evidence the authors use and what inferences they draw from them.

• Once you are done describing the books, say something about the book’s reception by the academic profession. This is where the book reviews come in. What do the reviewers

criticize? Do they have a point? Sometimes, you can look up the reviewers themselves (through Google Scholar) and see where they themselves stand in their own research on some

of these issues discussed in the books.

• It would be great if, by the end of your coursework, you could spell out which of the authors you side with (or whether you reject both of them). This is where you can make your own

case, having reviewed the evidence in both books as well as the critique presented by other scholars.

Books and reviewsc(please do read and use some of the reviews and cite them properly!!!):

1. Acemoglu, Daron and Robinson, James A. Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty. London: Profile Books, 2012

• Diamond, Jared. “What makes countries rich or poor?” The New York Review of Books, 7th June 2012, 7 page

• Jennings, Colin. “Institutions and prosperity. A review of Timothy Besley and Torsten Persson, Pillars of Prosperity: the Political Economics of Development Clusters … and Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson, Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty.” European Journal of Political Economy 29, 2013, pp. 252 – 258

• MacLeod, W. Bentley. “On Economics: A Review of Why Nations Fail by D. Acemoglu and J. Rpbinson and Pillars of Prosperity by T. Besley and T. Persson.” Journal of Economic

Literature 51 (1), 2013, pp. 116 – 143

• Vries, Peer. “Does wealth entirely depend on inclusive institutions and pluralist politics? A review of Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson, Why nation fail.” Ensayos de Economía

43, 2013, pp. 181 – 198

8. Pomeranz, Kenneth. The Great Divergence: China, Europe and the Making of the Modern World Economy. Princeton University Press, 2001

• Bin Wong, Roy. “Economic History in the Decade after the Great Divergence.” Historically Speaking 12 (4), 2011, pp. 17 – 19

• Coclanis, Peter A. “Ten Years After: Reflections on Kenneth Pomeranz’s The Great Divergence.” Historically Speaking 12, 2011, pp. 10 – 12

• Hoffman, Philip T. “Comment on Ken Pomeranz’s The Great Divergence”, Historically Speaking 12, 2011, pp. 16 – 17

• Huang, Philip C.C. “Review: Development or Involution in Eighteenth-Century Britain and China? A Review of Kenneth Pomeranz’s The Great Divergence: China, Europe and the

Making of the Modern World Economy.” Journal of Asian Studies 61 (2), 2002, pp. 501 – 538

• Jones, Eric. “Review of The Great Divergence: China, Europe and the Making of theModern World Economy.” Journal of Economic History 60, 2000, pp. 856 – 859

• Pomeranz, Kenneth. “Ten Years After: Responses and Reconsiderations.” Historically Speaking 12, 2011, pp. 20 – 25

• de Vries, Jan. “The Great Divergence after Ten Years: Justly Celebrated yet Hard to Believe.” Historically Speaking 12, 2011, pp. 13 – 15

Some hints for comparing these two books:

Both Pomeranz and A&R have something to say about historical experience of colonies and their role in European development. In addition, I suspect a lot of the comparison will focus on how the two books treat China throughout history. Pomeranz is a big fan of China, while A&R use it (explicitly or implicitly) as an example of growth under extractive institutions – so they are more skeptical and critical.

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