10 books like The Narrow Corridor

By Daron Acemoglu, James A. Robinson,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like The Narrow Corridor. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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A Capitalism for the People

By Luigi Zingales,

Book cover of A Capitalism for the People: Recapturing the Lost Genius of American Prosperity

Zingales is a brilliant academic economist, but this book leads the reader with both head and heart. Zingales is concerned that the US is on a path to similarities with his native Italy, where markets and politics are both corrupted by cronyism and nepotism. The book’s appeal is that Zingales's compelling argument cannot be put in a left or right box. He lays out evidence to suggest that more open competition will address both the inequality concerns of liberals, as well as the free market priorities of conservatives. Today, Zingales seems to suggest, we have the worst of both worlds.

A Capitalism for the People

By Luigi Zingales,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Capitalism for the People as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Born in Italy, University of Chicago economist Luigi Zingales witnessed firsthand the consequences of high inflation and unemployment--paired with rampant nepotism and cronyism--on a country's economy. This experience profoundly shaped his professional interests, and in 1988 he arrived in the United States, armed with a political passion and the belief that economists should not merely interpret the world, but should change it for the better. In A Capitalism for the People, Zingales makes a forceful, philosophical, and at times personal argument that the roots of American capitalism are dying, and that the result is a drift toward the more corrupt…


The Globalization Paradox

By Dani Rodrik,

Book cover of The Globalization Paradox: Democracy and the Future of the World Economy

Those who advocate most strongly for open borders and free trade – typically economists –focus their arguments on economic growth. Rodrik demonstrates that in opening borders something is lost, however, beyond the typical costs born by laid off manufacturing workers. Free trade can only be achieved with corollary changes in governance: to achieve truly open borders for goods, services, and capital, either democratic responsiveness or national self-determination will be casualties. Rodrik’s case for “you can’t have it all” is compelling.

The Globalization Paradox

By Dani Rodrik,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this eloquent challenge to the reigning wisdom on globalization, Dani Rodrik reminds us of the importance of the nation-state, arguing forcefully that when the social arrangements of democracies inevitably clash with the international demands of globalization, national priorities should take precedence. Combining history with insight, humor with good-natured critique, Rodrik's case for a customizable globalization supported by a light frame of international rules shows the way to a balanced prosperity as we confront today's global challenges in trade, finance, and labor markets.


Poor Economics

By Esther Duflo, Abhijit V. Banerjee,

Book cover of Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty

Banerjee and Duflo examine poverty at ground level, far from grand debates about the miracle of market competition vs. the necessity of aid and instead closer to the people who actually experience poverty. The entire book is centered on a simple question: What works? And how can we figure out what works? The authors have combined economics with psychology and empirical methods to understand the foundations of how the poor make decisions: the answer, it turns out, is that the process follows human decision-making everywhere. The challenge is that circumstances surrounding poverty make “good” decisions much more difficult. The practical approach to poverty pioneered by Bannerjee and Duflo earned a well-deserved Nobel prize in 2019.

Poor Economics

By Esther Duflo, Abhijit V. Banerjee,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Why do the poor borrow to save? Why do they miss out on free life-saving immunizations, but pay for unnecessary drugs? In Poor Economics , Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo, two practical visionaries working toward ending world poverty, answer these questions from the ground. In a book the Wall Street Journal called marvellous, rewarding," the authors tell how the stress of living on less than 99 cents per day encourages the poor to make questionable decisions that feed,not fight,poverty. The result is a radical rethinking of the economics of poverty that offers a ringside view of the lives of…


A Gesture Life

By Chang-Rae Lee,

Book cover of A Gesture Life

Hata, a Korean, adopted by a Japanese couple, serves the Japanese Army as a medic in World War II. His job is to care for enslaved Koreans who serve as “comfort women” to Japanese soldiers. His experiences are the material of nightmares. Years later he leads a deceptively quiet life in a small town in New Jersey with his Korean adoptive daughter. It is deceptively quiet because his unresolved war experiences, presented in flashbacks, haunt him. I admired the abrupt manner in which Chang-Rae Lee interrupted Hata’s uneventful life with horrific memories.

The author’s method felt like the triggering of those who have suffered trauma and continue to relive events as PTSD. This approach of interweaving past with present inspired my depiction of a young German woman living a quiet life on a primitive Icelandic farm, milking the cows and raking the hay, while being repeatedly interrupted by memories of…

A Gesture Life

By Chang-Rae Lee,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Gesture Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Franklin Hata, Korean by birth but raised in Japan, is an outsider in American society, but he embodies the values of the town he calls his own - he is polite and keeps himself to himself. Franklin deflects everyone with courtesy and impenetrable decorum, and becomes a respected elder of his small, prosperous American town. 'You make a whole life out of gestures and politeness,' Sunny tells her adoptive father. But as Sunny tries to unpick her father's scrupulous self-control, the story he has repressed emerges: his life as a medic in the Japanese Army and his love for a…


The Death and Life of Great American Cities

By Jane Jacobs,

Book cover of The Death and Life of Great American Cities

You simply cannot understand the city without understanding the society that brings it to life. Over six decades ago, Jane Jacobs upended the professions that governed, built, and increasingly destroyed cities by describing how cities do not thrive on drawing boards, but only as lived and altered by actual citizens. Her work is at once a manifesto against the status quo, a vivid description of the microcosm of urban life, and a manual for how to improve cities. Jacobs really opened my eyes to cities as systems of ‘organized complexity,’ essentially constantly re-materializing reflections of the many daily wishes and experiences of urban societies. While Jacobs laid the foundation of modern urban science with this statement, we still struggle to understand, accommodate, and leverage her desired urban complexity today.

The Death and Life of Great American Cities

By Jane Jacobs,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked The Death and Life of Great American Cities as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this classic text, Jane Jacobs set out to produce an attack on current city planning and rebuilding and to introduce new principles by which these should be governed. The result is one of the most stimulating books on cities ever written.

Throughout the post-war period, planners temperamentally unsympathetic to cities have been let loose on our urban environment. Inspired by the ideals of the Garden City or Le Corbusier's Radiant City, they have dreamt up ambitious projects based on self-contained neighbourhoods, super-blocks, rigid 'scientific' plans and endless acres of grass. Yet they seldom stop to look at what actually…


Limits of Organization

By Kenneth J. Arrow,

Book cover of Limits of Organization

The core question in social science may well be this: markets or central planning? This short book contains one person’s take on that big question. That person, Ken Arrow, many believe to be the greatest economic theorist of the past hundred years. His clarity, constraint, and curiosity inspire awe. Arrow, who derived the fundamental welfare theorems of economics,  describes the advantages markets as only he can without being blind to their shortcomings; markets reward selfishness and fail to include any defensible distribution of income. His rich, prescient analysis of formal organizations goes far beyond the standard transaction costs logic and includes remarks on path dependence, communications costs, and the difficulty of determining optimal organizational structures.  

Though central, the markets versus central planning reading obscure Arrow’s profound observations on invisible institutions: trust, ethics, and morality. Much to contemplate here including his observation that informational asymmetries limit the value of considering…

Limits of Organization

By Kenneth J. Arrow,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The tension between what we wish for and what we can get, between values and opportunities, exists even at the purely individual level. A hermit on a mountain may value warm clothing and yet be hard-pressed to make it from the leaves, bark, or skins he can find. But when many people are competing with each other for satisfaction of their wants, learning how to exploit what is available becomes more difficult. In this volume, Nobel Laureate Kenneth J. Arrow analyzes why - and how - human beings organize their common lives to overcome the basic economic problem: the allocation…


The Tyranny of the Ideal

By Gerald Gaus,

Book cover of The Tyranny of the Ideal: Justice in a Diverse Society

This book challenges the notion that we should rely on the ideal as a guidepost. Set aside whether we could decide on an ideal; Gaus, a philosopher, makes a four-part argument against pursuing it. First, how could we contemplate the incomprehensible number of possible institutional, legal, and organizational configurations? We couldn’t. Second, the components of those configurations interact, resulting in a rugged landscape: the path to the ideal would not be entirely uphill, that is, it would require sacrifices. Hence, the book’s title. Third, owing to the interactions among choices, we cannot evaluate collective well-being in alternative configurations with any accuracy. What hubris to assume that we could. And finally, the landscape responds to our positioning, as we adapt our physical, organizational, and institutional (both formal and invisible) environments, we alter what we can achieve and what we desire.

The Tyranny of the Ideal

By Gerald Gaus,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Tyranny of the Ideal as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In his provocative new book, The Tyranny of the Ideal, Gerald Gaus lays out a vision for how we should theorize about justice in a diverse society. Gaus shows how free and equal people, faced with intractable struggles and irreconcilable conflicts, might share a common moral life shaped by a just framework. He argues that if we are to take diversity seriously and if moral inquiry is sincere about shaping the world, then the pursuit of idealized and perfect theories of justice-essentially, the entire production of theories of justice that has dominated political philosophy for the past forty years-needs to…


A Pattern Language

By Christopher Alexander,

Book cover of A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction

Christopher Alexander was arguably the greatest genius of the twentieth century. This, his most famous book, is a guide to the way the human mind and body relate to the spaces around it. If you are making games that involve rooms, terrain, or locations, this book will provide a wealth of insights, especially if your games are social. Will Wright read this book, and it inspired him to create Sim City. I read it and suddenly understood how to layout Toontown. What will happen when you read it? 

A Pattern Language

By Christopher Alexander,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked A Pattern Language as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

You can use this book to design a house for yourself with your family; you can use it to work with your neighbors to improve your town and neighborhood; you can use it to design an office, or a workshop, or a public building. And you can use it to guide you in the actual process of construction. After a ten-year silence, Christopher Alexander and his colleagues at the Center for Environmental Structure are now publishing a major statement in
the form of three books which will, in their words, "lay the basis for an entirely new approach to architecture,…


How Democracies Die

By Steven Levitsky, Daniel Ziblatt,

Book cover of How Democracies Die

How Democracies Die is an important best-selling book on perils facing US democracy. The authors, both political scientists at Harvard, are leading experts in democracy in Latin America and Europe. They argue that polarization and a shattering of long-standing democratic norms have created serious threats to US democracy. Their work increased public awareness that US democracy could be at risk. The book is a fairly quick read, and my students love reading and debating it.  

How Democracies Die

By Steven Levitsky, Daniel Ziblatt,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked How Democracies Die as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'The most important book of the Trump era' The Economist

How does a democracy die?
What can we do to save our own?
What lessons does history teach us?

In the 21st century democracy is threatened like never before.

Drawing insightful lessons from across history - from Pinochet's murderous Chilean regime to Erdogan's quiet dismantling in Turkey - Levitsky and Ziblatt explain why democracies fail, how leaders like Trump subvert them today and what each of us can do to protect our democratic rights.

'This book looks to history to provide a guide for defending democratic norms when they are…


Learning to Belong in the World

By Tomoko Tokunaga,

Book cover of Learning to Belong in the World: An Ethnography of Asian American Girls

Growing up, I moved from one culture to another, and I know being a teenager can be difficult. The lives of teenage girls are complex, even more so for the children of Asian immigrants, who not only face the pressures of school and society but also serve as cultural mediators, negotiators, community builders, and bridges between the many worlds they grow up in. His book looks at the lives of Asian American girls and their roles in globalization and boundary crossing as they struggle, dream, grow, and thrive. As an immigrant myself, I connected to many of the ideas in this book.

Learning to Belong in the World

By Tomoko Tokunaga,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Learning to Belong in the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book provides a complex and intricate portrayal of Asian American high school girls - which has been an under-researched population - as cultural meditators, diasporic agents, and community builders who negotiate displacement and attachment in challenging worlds of the in-between. Based on two years of ethnographic fieldwork, Tomoko Tokunaga presents a portrait of the girls' hardships, dilemmas, and dreams while growing up in an interconnected world. This book contributes a new understanding of the roles of immigrant children and youth as agents of globalization and sophisticated border-crossers who have the power and agency to construct belonging and identity across…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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