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A great book that takes a broad look at the successful and unsuccessful countries/regions of the world over the last 700 years or so. While this was not a difficult read, it was not a really engaging read either, it is simply loaded with just too much information to be a real page-turner. However, one learns a lot. The book suffered a little bit I think from very poor editing, there were many mistakes that a simple spell check would have caught, sometimes I had to re-read a simple sentence (you will expand your SAT or GRE vocab in this book for sure) & figure out the missing word. Landes is not afraid to unapologetically say that the West (Europe) has done the best and it is largely because of culture. This book was a refreshing bit of realism & he really takes on those who would nay-say the West's technological & prosperity leadership, or who would try to say it is all just an accident. He does highlight those few non-Western countries that have done well recently, and we can see those even more so (like Korea) now, 12 years after this was published. He also shows how some of the losers in Europe went down the wrong path, so there is again, realistic balance.