100 books like How the World Became Rich

By Mark Koyama, Jared Rubin,

Here are 100 books that How the World Became Rich fans have personally recommended if you like How the World Became Rich. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of A Gentleman in Moscow

Daniel J. Barrett Author Of Efficient Linux at the Command Line: Boost Your Command-Line Skills

From my list on quirky people and their adventures.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a nonfiction author, I’ve always been mystified by fictional character development. What qualities make one character fascinating and another a dud? How do great writers make us fall in love with their creations? If I had one wish as an author, it would be to create one truly beloved character. I particularly like quirky nonconformists who forge their own paths, making mistakes along the way, yet they remain sympathetic. When I finish reading the story, I miss their company. My five recommended books include some of my favorite characters in modern literature.

Daniel's book list on quirky people and their adventures

Daniel J. Barrett Why did Daniel love this book?

I found Count Alexander Rostov to be a fascinating character with real depth. Sentenced to house arrest for the rest of his life, he outwits his opponents at every turn. I love how he changes the lives of everyone around him, whether they are his friends or his jailers, and ultimately how he is changed by them.

By Amor Towles,

Why should I read it?

34 authors picked A Gentleman in Moscow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The mega-bestseller with more than 2 million readers, soon to be a major television series

From the #1 New York Times-bestselling author of The Lincoln Highway and Rules of Civility, a beautifully transporting novel about a man who is ordered to spend the rest of his life inside a luxury hotel

In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, and is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and…


Book cover of Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty

Sergei Guriev Author Of Spin Dictators: The Changing Face of Tyranny in the 21st Century

From my list on why countries succeed and why they fail.

Why am I passionate about this?

What are some countries rich and others are poor? I strongly believe that this is the most important question for modern economics. I've become an economist to understand this. I am happy that in recent decades economists – working closely together with other social scientists – have made so much progress in this field. And this is not abstract knowledge – it is being applied already to help developing countries catch up with the rich world. I have seen it myself when I took a leave from academia to work as a Chief Economist of a development bank (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development) – to learn more from and to contribute to this work.

Sergei's book list on why countries succeed and why they fail

Sergei Guriev Why did Sergei love this book?

This is a bestselling book that tackles the most important question in economics: why some countries are rich, and some are poor.

This well-written and convincing book provides a very broad and accessible overview of history of successful and failing societies. It argues that inclusive democratic institutions deliver better economic outcomes than authoritarian ones.

Given that this view is based on recent research in political economy and development economics – including the authors’ own groundbreaking work – this is a must-read for all advocates of liberal democracy who want to have quantitative arguments and historical narratives to stand up to the rise of authoritarianism around the world. 

I teach political economy of development. My job is to explain to the students why some countries are rich and others are poor.

Acemoglu and Robinson is a wonderful and accessible textbook. Students love it – even if they often argue with the…

By Daron Acemoglu, James A. Robinson,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Why Nations Fail as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Shortlisted for the Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award 2012.

Why are some nations more prosperous than others? Why Nations Fail sets out to answer this question, with a compelling and elegantly argued new theory: that it is not down to climate, geography or culture, but because of institutions. Drawing on an extraordinary range of contemporary and historical examples, from ancient Rome through the Tudors to modern-day China, leading academics Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson show that to invest and prosper, people need to know that if they work hard, they can make money…


Book cover of Upheaval

Sergei Guriev Author Of Spin Dictators: The Changing Face of Tyranny in the 21st Century

From my list on why countries succeed and why they fail.

Why am I passionate about this?

What are some countries rich and others are poor? I strongly believe that this is the most important question for modern economics. I've become an economist to understand this. I am happy that in recent decades economists – working closely together with other social scientists – have made so much progress in this field. And this is not abstract knowledge – it is being applied already to help developing countries catch up with the rich world. I have seen it myself when I took a leave from academia to work as a Chief Economist of a development bank (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development) – to learn more from and to contribute to this work.

Sergei's book list on why countries succeed and why they fail

Sergei Guriev Why did Sergei love this book?

This is a fascinating in-depth account of several case studies of countries that faced a crisis and had to reinvent themselves: Australia, Chile, Finland, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, and the US (I am not mentioning the exact time points to avoid spoilers).

The author puts together a general framework to evaluate the factors that contribute to successful or failing transformations.

For me, as a Russian, this is a very practical guidebook – how should we rebuild Russia after Putin, how should Russia re-emerge as a peaceful and free country; how can we make sure that Russia will never again be what it is now. The book provides many insights on this but, unfortunately, also suggests that success is not guaranteed.

By Jared Diamond,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Upheaval as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


A "riveting and illuminating" Bill Gates Summer Reading pick about how and why some nations recover from trauma and others don't (Yuval Noah Harari), by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the landmark bestseller Guns, Germs, and Steel.

In his international bestsellers Guns, Germs and Steel and Collapse, Jared Diamond transformed our understanding of what makes civilizations rise and fall. Now, in his third book in this monumental trilogy, he reveals how successful nations recover from crises while adopting selective changes -- a coping mechanism more commonly associated with individuals recovering from personal crises.

Diamond compares how six countries have survived…


Book cover of Alexander Hamilton

Jake S. Friedman Author Of The Disney Revolt: The Great Labor War of Animation's Golden Age

From my list on American history that read like you’re binge-watching.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm an expert in animation history, having written three books on it, dozens of articles, and appeared on TV documentaries about it. I've also been a college professor for about 13 years, so I know what a story needs to maintain interest. These books have that. They're about different chunks of American history, some political, some artistic, all cultural. But they're also focused on the people who made the history, and showing how they got to where they were, and why they matter. These books let me walk in the shoes of subjects, and whisk me back to their time and place. If a book passes the empathy/time-machine test, it has won me over.

Jake's book list on American history that read like you’re binge-watching

Jake S. Friedman Why did Jake love this book?

I learned that he was the only of America’s Founding Father to not come from a well-to-do family.

The book makes him into such a three-dimensional, yet exceptional portrait of a man, Even down to his extramarital affair, the first sex scandal in America. I felt like I could have a beer with this guy by the time the book was over. It breathes life into the exciting time that was colonial America before, during and immediately after the war for independence. It makes the events seem less like a bygone era, and more like a bunch of dudes threatening each other.

Most of all, it casts slavery into a realistic light, pulling no punches on how hypocritical many colonists considered each other for having slaves.

By Ron Chernow,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Alexander Hamilton as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The #1 New York Times bestseller, and the inspiration for the hit Broadway musical Hamilton!

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ron Chernow presents a landmark biography of Alexander Hamilton, the Founding Father who galvanized, inspired, scandalized, and shaped the newborn nation.

"Grand-scale biography at its best-thorough, insightful, consistently fair, and superbly written . . . A genuinely great book." -David McCullough

"A robust full-length portrait, in my view the best ever written, of the most brilliant, charismatic and dangerous founder of them all." -Joseph Ellis


Few figures in American history have been more hotly debated or more grossly misunderstood than Alexander Hamilton.…


Book cover of A Culture of Growth: The Origins of the Modern Economy

Alex Mesoudi Author Of Cultural Evolution: How Darwinian Theory Can Explain Human Culture and Synthesize the Social Sciences

From my list on cultural evolution.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am Professor of Cultural Evolution at the University of Exeter, UK. In my research I use lab experiments and theoretical models to understand how human culture evolves. Since my undergraduate psychology degree I have always been attracted to big ideas about how evolution has shaped human minds. Yet evolutionary psychology, with its stone age brains frozen in time, seemed unsatisfying. This led me to cultural evolution, with its grand idea that the same evolutionary process underlies both genetic and cultural change. Humans are not just products of countless generations of genetic evolution, but also of cultural evolution. This view of humanity is grander than any other I’ve come across.

Alex's book list on cultural evolution

Alex Mesoudi Why did Alex love this book?

I’ve included this book to illustrate how the perspective of cultural evolution is spreading to disciplines and problems far beyond its origins in biology and anthropology. In this case the discipline is economic history and the problem is explaining why the Enlightenment, which paved the way for the rapid technological and economic transformations brought about by the subsequent Industrial Revolution, occurred when it did (1500-1700) and where it did (Western Europe). Mokyr’s answer draws on cultural evolutionary concepts to argue that a culturally transmitted mindset of innovation and progress, as well as the intense competition of ideas within a politically fragmented Europe, led to rapid scientific advances. Essential reading for anyone interested in the origins of the modern world.

By Joel Mokyr,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Culture of Growth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Why Enlightenment culture sparked the Industrial Revolution

During the late eighteenth century, innovations in Europe triggered the Industrial Revolution and the sustained economic progress that spread across the globe. While much has been made of the details of the Industrial Revolution, what remains a mystery is why it took place at all. Why did this revolution begin in the West and not elsewhere, and why did it continue, leading to today's unprecedented prosperity? In this groundbreaking book, celebrated economic historian Joel Mokyr argues that a culture of growth specific to early modern Europe and the European Enlightenment laid the foundations…


Book cover of The First Industrial Revolution

Mark Denny Author Of Their Arrows Will Darken the Sun: The Evolution and Science of Ballistics

From my list on science and technology.

Why am I passionate about this?

Trained as a physicist and employed for twenty years as an engineer, my great interest in the application of science then led me to write. I authored technical papers on the physics underpinning venerable machines such as pendulum clocks and waterwheels; these were read by the chief editor at Johns Hopkins University Press, who invited me to turn them into a popular science book–the first of fourteen. Often, technological advances were made empirically–the development of sailing ships, bridges, or pocket watches–by working people with no formal knowledge of science, yet their designs survive as triumphs of human thought, as well as useful machines.

Mark's book list on science and technology

Mark Denny Why did Mark love this book?

Knowledgeable academic experts often write technical tomes that are as dry as their subjects, But Deane's historical exposition of Britain's Industrial Revolution is fascinating, full of insights, and well-written.

Why Britain first? The answers intrigue and engage. Why did other countries (the United States and Germany) outstrip the British from the mid-nineteenth century?

By P. M. Deane,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The First Industrial Revolution as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book identifies the strategic changes in economic organisation, industrial structure and technological progress associated with the industrial revolution, which took place in Britain over the century 1750-1850 and which marked a watershed in world economic development - the beginnings of modern economic growth for developed countries and an example of spontaneous industrialisation for third world countries. The book assesses both starting point and achievement, analyses the substance of economic transformation and evaluates the role of government policy and institutional change in retarding or accelerating economic development. The second edition updates and expands the first by taking into account (and…


Book cover of Economic Transformations: General Purpose Technologies and Long-Term Economic Growth

Richard G. Lipsey Author Of Industrial Policy: The Coevolution of Public and Private Sources of Finance for Important Emerging and Evolving Technologies

From my list on how private and public sector enterprises.

Why am I passionate about this?

Over my lifetime I have been involved in myriad policy issues running from 1970s anti-inflation policies, through the creation of NAFTA in the 1980s, to dealing with climate change in the 2000s. My interest and that of my co-author in technological change and economic growth entailed involvement in innovation policy. We are particularly worried because many citizens have no realisation of the important part that public policy has played in technological changes. Ignorance of this is dangerous in that it may lead legislatures to inhibit the public sector’s future role in such developments without which we have a much-diminished chance of dealing with climate change and holding our own in international economic competition.

Richard's book list on how private and public sector enterprises

Richard G. Lipsey Why did Richard love this book?

While all the books listed earlier provide detailed, in-depth, case studies of public-private sector cooperation in developing selected new technologies, the last two chapters of this book provide necessarily brief coverages of the myriad ways in which this cooperation had been successfully manifested beyond encouraging specific technologies.

Although the book’s main purpose is to show how a series of important technologies have transformed economic, social, and political life over the millennia, the last two chapters show how knowledge of these transformations sheds light on the wider use of public policy to achieve economic goals.

While many public initiatives have succeeded, others have failed. The authors isolate the reasons for these successes and failures and offer their template for designing and administering policies that are more likely to succeed than fail.

By Richard G. Lipsey, Kenneth I. Carlaw, Clifford T. Bekar

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Economic Transformations as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book examines the long term economic growth that has raised the West's material living standards to levels undreamed of by counterparts in any previous time or place. The authors argue that this growth has been driven by technological revolutions that have periodically transformed the West's economic, social and political landscape over the last 10,000 years and allowed the West to become, until recently, the world's only dominant technological force.

Unique in the diversity of the analytical techniques used, the book begins with a discussion of the causes and consequences of economic growth and technological change. The authors argue that…


Book cover of The Journey of Humanity: The Origins of Wealth and Inequality

Lodewijk Smets Author Of Retooling Development Aid in the 21st Century: The Importance of Budget Support

From my list on economic growth and international development.

Why am I passionate about this?

As Nobel prize-winning economist Robert Lucas put it, "Once you start thinking about economic growth, it's hard to think about anything else." That's why I am eager to share the best books on economic development with you! I am a Senior Economist at the World Bank, the world's premier development institution. Over the years, I have developed a deep interest in what makes countries prosper, have published extensively on the topic in academic journals, and earned a PhD in Economics along the way. As a development practitioner, I have been supporting sustainable growth across the globe, with working experience in the Caribbean, Africa, and the Pacific. 

Lodewijk's book list on economic growth and international development

Lodewijk Smets Why did Lodewijk love this book?

In a captivating journey from the dawn of human existence to the present, Oded Galor offers a fascinating tale of why some nations have developed while others haven't.

The book explains how technology, family size, and adaptation led to a profound change in human history, with the Industrial Revolution as the turning point. The fundamental forces driving the explosion of per capita prosperity (in some nations) can be traced back to sound political institutions, conducive cultural traits, and an 'optimal' ethnic diversity that followed from the dispersal of modern humans out of Africa some 70,000 years ago.

I was struck by how the author brought together a wide variety of research on growth and development in a coherent framework.

By Oded Galor,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Journey of Humanity as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This breakthrough scientific masterwork - and INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER - reveals the underlying forces that have shaped human history and will secure our future...

'Masterful. Galor answers the ultimate mystery' Lewis Dartnell

The stunning advances that have transformed human experience in recent centuries are no accident of history - they are the result of universal and timeless forces, operating since the dawn of our species. Drawing on a lifetime's scientific investigation, Oded Galor's ground-breaking new vision overturns a host of long-held assumptions to reveal the deeper causes that have shaped the journey of humanity:

Education rather than industrialisation
Family size and…


Book cover of Material World: A Global Family Portrait

Blaine Brownell Author Of Transmaterial: A Catalog of Materials That Redefine Our Physical Environment

From my list on the world of materials.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm an architect, professor, and director of the School of Architecture at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Throughout my career, I've sought to empower people to improve the designed environment through better knowledge of materials. I've written nine books and many articles on emerging materials, sustainable building technologies, and Japanese architecture and design. Having lived in Japan several times, I also appreciate the importance of developing an expanded worldview of material practices.

Blaine's book list on the world of materials

Blaine Brownell Why did Blaine love this book?

Global socioeconomic diversity is an important yet abstract concept, but this book offers tangible evidence.

Household material wealth varies significantly worldwide in both quantity and quality. To reveal this diverse range, sixteen photographers visited thirty countries and lived briefly with families considered statistically average for their nation.

In the book, each family stands before their abode with all their household possessions. Suffice it to say that contrasts abound.

By Peter Menzel,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Material World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Called “Fascinating! An incredible book” by Oprah Winfrey, this beloved photography collection vividly portrays the look and feel of the human condition everywhere on Earth.

In an unprecedented effort, sixteen of the world’s foremost photographers traveled to thirty nations around the globe to live for a week with families that were statistically average for that nation. At the end of each visit, photographer and family collaborated on a remarkable portrait of the family members outside their home, surrounded by all of their possessions; a few jars and jugs for some, an explosion of electronic gadgetry for others.

This internationally acclaimed…


Book cover of Principles for Dealing with the Changing World Order: Why Nations Succeed and Fail

William J. Poorvu Author Of The Real Estate Game: The Intelligent Guide to Decisionmaking and Investment

From my list on real estate and wealth-building.

Why am I passionate about this?

Bill Poorvu is a successful real estate investor and developer who for 35 years headed the real estate program at Harvard Business School, where he taught several generations of students, many of whom went on to become industry leaders. He is also one of the founders of the Baupost Group, a Boston-based investment firm that is considered one of the savviest hedge funds in the world, with some $30 billion in assets under management.

William's book list on real estate and wealth-building

William J. Poorvu Why did William love this book?

Successful real estate investment and development is in part the result of understanding an economic context and taking the long view. Toward those ends, there’s no better jumping-off point than Ray Dalio's historical review of the economic “Big Cycle” that has determined the success and failure of nations and economic systems over the past several centuries. And by the way, Ray knows what he’s talking about: his Bridgewater Associates is the world’s largest hedge fund.

By Ray Dalio,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Principles for Dealing with the Changing World Order as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

“A provocative read...There are few tomes that coherently map such broad economic histories as well as Mr. Dalio’s. Perhaps more unusually, Mr. Dalio has managed to identify metrics from that history that can be applied to understand today.” —Andrew Ross Sorkin, The New York Times

From legendary investor Ray Dalio, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Principles, who has spent half a century studying global economies and markets, Principles for Dealing with the Changing World Order examines history’s most turbulent economic and political periods to reveal why the times ahead will likely be radically…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in economic development, the Industrial Revolution, and Japan?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about economic development, the Industrial Revolution, and Japan.

Economic Development Explore 65 books about economic development
The Industrial Revolution Explore 75 books about the Industrial Revolution
Japan Explore 493 books about Japan