The Bottom Billion: a bit of a bore

bottombillionThis month’s bookclub book review requires a confession at the outset: I never actually made it all the way to the end of Paul Collier’s The Bottom Billion. *nervously brings her clinched fist to her mouth in mock shame*

I don’t want to discredit the book entirely. If you are an intellectual or an economist and you love the detailed, statistical research and analytical side of development then I’m sure you will love this book. I, on the other hand, want the stories of how lives are affected and then changed, how communities are being lifted out of dire circumstances and so forth. I want to read about the human side of poverty. Perhaps this comes at the end of the book but, if I am honest, it lost me too early on to persevere all the way through.

Don’t get me wrong; I do value proven stats, graphs and facts to the extent we need them to ensure the measures we are implementing in terms of development will be effective. I just don’t necessarily want to read an entire book about it.

So, this month’s bookclub post is honest but largely inconclusive. The Bottom Billion comes highly recommended by many of those respected in the area of poverty and development so it surely has its place in any reputable International Development or Economics section. If you want to sound clever and go a bit deeper into some of the issues surrounding extreme poverty then do give it a read. Personally, I’d suggest spending just 17 minutes watching Collier’s TED talk instead.


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