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Although this excellent book only takes the reader to the early 2000’s - ahead of the 2008 meltdown and the Obama and Trump administrations, it nonetheless provides good analysis and background to how we got here in terms of world economic relationships. An excellent read on the geo-political and economic environment. It is not dry and technical.
A rather boring account of economic history jumping to many places in the world providing only glimpses. Inconclusive (except too much government is bad, thank you!), no economic analysis and weak economic intellect. I put the book down towards the end because it kept repeating the same story. If you look for economic insights, this is not the book to turn to.
I like this book and its writing style so much! It's easy to read and to understand, it provides you with valuable informations and helps to get a coherent picture about the economic development all over the world in the last century.
This is a wonderful history of Economics in the modern world...it is not an Economics book, but a history book from an economic standpoint. I also have the DVD collection. TRULY a wonderful book and DVD's. I have bought three copies as gifts. My Economics professor told me to buy them and he is probably one of the best professors I have ever had. It enlightens one as to Keynesian v. Austrian school economics...Keynes v. Hayek. If you want to understand the world development in the 20th Century from an economic point of view rather than a political point of view, then you also will love this book.
Having read The Prize I was disappointed in the story telling but that could be because I come from an oil producing country and oil is central to our lives. The Commanding Heights does not have such an exciting cast of characters as the oil business did: Churchill, Gulbenkian, Rockefeller, Detering, and Lydia Pavlova to name a few.
That said, the book is an educational review of the changing political economy of the world, a change away from command and control toward free markets. Although the authors clearly favor free markets which have created much more wealth and well being for a huge portion of the population than command and control ever did, they manage to remain objective about the dangers that markets pose. This objectivity is most clearly shown in the last chapter where they talk about the critical tests required to judge the results that markets bring.
Not all markets are created equal. For example, the supposed deregulation of the California energy market was a fiasco because that market was badly designed. To get a better understanding of markets I suggest reading John McMillan's Reinventing the Bazaar, a Natural History of Markets.
My country was mostly bypassed by the move to a market economy. Reading the book I felt as if I were living in an alternate universe. In the early 1990s the local telco was privatized and that was about the end of it for us. When the president tried to raise the price of gas at the pump, he was impeached on trumped up charges. His own party turned against him. As a result, we have moved backwards from an economy based on import substitution to a quasi dictatorship with price controls and the destruction of private enterprise. These are the dangers of trying to move to market economies without first preparing the population for the inevitable pain that comes with the change. Unfortunately, The Commanding Heights does not cover the failures, only the success stories. Talking about failures, Russia is fast moving back to autocratic management of the economy mostly by Putin's KGB cronies, another failure where markets are not being given a chance.
To sum up, the book is worth reading but it is no thriller, be prepared to work you way through it.