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  • Published: 17 November 2020
  • ISBN: 9780241314333
  • Imprint: Penguin General UK
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 576
  • RRP: $26.99

The Narrow Corridor

States, Societies, and the Fate of Liberty




The internationally bestselling authors of Why Nations Fail on how different societies develop, and resolve, or fail to resolve, conflicts

By the authors of the international bestseller Why Nations Fail, based on decades of research, this powerful new big-picture framework explains how some countries develop towards and provide liberty while others fall to despotism, anarchy or asphyxiating norms - and explains how liberty can thrive despite new threats.

Liberty is hardly the 'natural' order of things; usually states have been either too weak to protect individuals or too strong for people to protect themselves from despotism. There is also a happy Western myth that where liberty exists, it's a steady state, arrived at by 'enlightenment'. But liberty emerges only when a delicate and incessant balance is struck between state and society - between elites and citizens. This struggle becomes self-reinforcing, inducing both state and society to develop a richer array of capacities, thus affecting the peacefulness of societies, the success of economies and how people experience their daily lives.

Explaining this new framework through compelling stories from around the world, in history and from today - and through a single diagram on which the development of any state can be plotted - this masterpiece helps us understand the past and present, and analyse the future.

  • Published: 17 November 2020
  • ISBN: 9780241314333
  • Imprint: Penguin General UK
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 576
  • RRP: $26.99

About the author

Daron Acemoglu

DARON ACEMOGLU is the Killian Professor of Economics at MIT. In 2005 he received the John Bates Clark Medal awarded to economists under forty judged to have made the most significant contribution to economic thought and knowledge.

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Praise for The Narrow Corridor

Another outstanding, insightful book by Acemoglu and Robinson on the importance and difficulty of getting and maintaining a successful democratic state. Packed with examples and analysis, it is a pleasure to read

Peter Diamond, Nobel Laureate in Economics, 2010

The Narrow Corridor takes us on a fascinating journey, across continents and through human history, to discover the critical ingredient of liberty. It finds that it's up to each of us: that ingredient is our own commitments, as citizens, to support democratic values. In these times, there can be no more important message-nor any more important book

George Akerlof, Nobel Laureate in Economics, 2001

One of the biggest paradoxes of political history is the trend, over the last 10,000 years, towards the development of strong centralized states, out of the former bands and tribes of no more than a few hundred people that formerly constituted all human societies. Without such states, it would be impossible for societies of millions to function. But-how can a powerful state be reconciled with liberty for the state's citizens? This great book provides an answer to this fundamental dilemma. You will find it as enjoyable as it is thought-provoking

Jared Diamond, Professor of Geography at UCLA, Pulitzer-Prize-winning author of Guns, Germs, and Steel

How should we view the current challenges facing our democracies? This brilliant, timely book offers a simple, powerful framework for assessing alternative forms of social governance. The analysis is a reminder that it takes vigilance to maintain a proper balance between the state and society-to stay in the 'narrow corridor'-and avoid falling either into statelessness or dictatorship

Bengt Holmstrom, Nobel Laureate in Economics, 2016

Liberty does not come easily. Many populations suffer from an ineffective state and are stuck in a cage of norms and traditions, of self-appointed chiefs, dispute adjudicators, guardians of souls and husbands turned tyrants. Others are subdued by a despotic Leviathan. In this highly original and gratifying fresco, Daron Acemoglu and Jim Robinson take us on a journey through civilizations, time and locations. Their narrow corridor depicts the constant and often unstable struggle of society to keep the Leviathan in check and of the Leviathan to weaken the cage of norms. A remarkable achievement that only they could pull off and that seems destined to repeat the stellar performance of Why Nations Fail

Jean Tirole, Nobel Laureate in Economics, 2014

Society and state need each other. Applying a global wealth of historical detail to a simple analytic framework, Acemoglu and Robinson build a powerful argument against the current opposing fashions of totalitarianism and the stateless society

Sir Paul Collier, author of The Bottom Billion

This book is more original and exciting than its predecessor...the highly influential Why Nations Fail

Martin Wolf, Financial Times

Why is it so difficult to develop and sustain liberal democracy? The best recent work on this subject comes from a remarkable pair of scholars, Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson. In their latest book, they have answered this question with great insight

Fareed Zakaraia, Washington Post

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