Critical Book Review: ‘Why nations fail: The origins of Power, Prosperity and and Poverty’ by Daron Acemoglu

You will analyse the book’s content & present an account of its key arguments as well as an assessment of its reception and/or the academic engagement it has prompted.

– Read your chosen book through once without taking notes to get a clear idea of what its argument is. Then make notes based on the themes you have identified as being part of its overall analysis. This will allow you to write an account of the books central theme(s) mostly in your own words.

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– Using Google Scholar you now need to track down authors/analysts who have either utilised the book’s arguments, or criticised its analysis (or more likely both) to establish the ‘reception’ of the book. This can be both within the academic literature, and depending on your choice, within the wider policy community (via newspaper coverage in the Financial Times, for instance).

– The final section of the Critical Book Review is your evaluation of the relationship between the original book and those that have commented on it; this may also include some consideration of the book’s wider impact.

Please do not:

· Have separate sections for the discussion of the book and the sources related to it

· Have lots of long quotes linked by short passages of your own words.

· Forget to reference the original book.

General guidance:

· Argue do not assert – show don’t tell

· Detail is good – depth rather than breadth – a clear focus

· Narrative arc – beginning, middle and end

· Section titles can help structure (but are not required)

· Authors/analysts – not general positions

· Clarity of exposition = clarity of thought

· Define neologisms and jargon – use sparingly and only if necessary

· Acronyms – define on first use

· Use range of literature: do not limit to readings we have done in seminars/lectures. Marks may be deducted for lack of demonstration of research skills

· Referencing – level and method – Harvard vs. footnote – key issues: clarity and consistency

· Using web sources – clear web URL (access date) – too much info better than not enough

· Plagiarism and Turn-it-in

· No right length – treat word guide as target, but length must be ‘right’ for analysis presented (within reason & regulations, ish)

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