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The Idealist: Jeffrey Sachs And The Quest To End Poverty (2013)

by Nina Munk(Favorite Author)
3.86 of 5 Votes: 5
0771062508 (ISBN13: 9780771062506)
review 1: Nina Munk has produced a highly readable book about a complicated man and an even more complicated topic: international development. She sets out to weave together the story of Jeffery Sachs with the stories of people from two of the sites (one in northern Kenya and one in Uganda) of his famous Millennium Villages Project and ends up doing an elegant job. Munk manages to present a balanced view of Sachs through a journalistic yet not dispassionate telling of what really happens - the successes and the abject failures - when various people from different continents and wildly different viewpoints come together to try to "eradicate poverty" in a village-comprehensive way. I was left feeling conflicted about Sachs and asking myself questions about "style vs substance" which, ... moreI think, are particularly relevant in any work across cultures. More than that, it's valuable for books about development to be accessible to everyone - to bring to the page the lives of people, to problematize all of our approaches, and to raise more questions than they answer - and Munk has achieved those aims here.
review 2: This was a concise, engaging and mostly balanced look at Jeffrey Sachs' Millennium Village Projects. Perhaps the most impressive thing about this book was its brevity. The author is a journalist who spent several years covering Sachs' MVPs. She had a lot of access to Sachs and to his staff, both in New York City and on the ground in the villages; she even sat in on a number of meetings between Sachs and country leaders and high ranking development officials. And she spent considerable time in the villages, talking to people and witnessing the development of the MVPs. Yet despite the huge amount of material that she no doubt collected, the book avoids the traps of many journalistic accounts. It is concise, it never gets repetitive, and it doesn't overstep its author's expertise. It also attempts to give a balanced look at the projects. It starts out cautiously optimistic, perhaps caught up in the aura of Sachs' unreserved confidence; it ends with several poignant accounts of the failings of the MVPs and the frustrations of Sachs and his staff. Sachs comes off as a pretty dislikable figure for his arrogance and pettiness, but you never get the feeling that she is being unfair to him. This isn't a brilliant book of development theory, but it is a highly readable account of one of the more famous and controversial development experiments of recent times. less
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Whoa, did Jeffrey Sachs just stroll into Africa and claim to be able to solve poverty?
Some interesting insight, from the front line.
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