Book Reviews for Texts Used in TBB’s Programs

TBB offers a series of book reviews on some of the many texts we use during the course of our gap year programs. Books have been chosen for TBB Book Reviews because they offer unique insight into international development issues and inspire us each to be proactive agents of change. If you are interested in exploring some of the ideas TBB students engage during our gap year programs, pick up a few books and follow along!

End of Poverty
The End of Poverty
White Man's Burden
The White Man’s Burden
Development as Freedom
Development as Freedom
Dead Aid
Dead Aid
Confessions of an Economic Hitman
Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
Hot Flat and Crowded
Hot Flat and Crowded
Savages
Savages
Cradle to Cradle
Cradle to Cradle
Pedagogy of the Oppressed
Pedagogy of the Oppressed
Oracle Bones
Oracle Bones
First They Killed My Father
First They Killed My Father
The Omnivores Dilemma
The Omnivore’s Dilemma
In Spite of the Gods
In Spite of the Gods
Mountains Beyond Mountains
Mountains Beyond Mountains
Three Cups of Tea
Three Letter Plague
There Are No Children Here
There Are No Children Here
Capitalisms Achilles Heel
Capitalism’s Achilles Heel
Half the Sky
Half the Sky
How to Change the World
How to Change the World
Delivering Development
Delivering Development

The End of Poverty Jeffrey SachsThe End of Poverty

Jeffery Sachs
Jeffrey Sachs is a world renowned economist who served as the architect of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals. In this bestseller, Sachs paints a picture of how the complexities of poverty have trapped 1.2 billion people around the world in what he calls “extreme poverty.” Read More

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The White Man's Burden by William EasterlyThe White Man’s Burden

William Easterly
William Easterly is a former World Banker staffer and is currently a professor at NYU. Building on his extensive research and personal experience in the field of international development, The White Man’s Burden delivers a strong critique of the efforts of the “developed” world to assist the “developing” world with foreign aid. Read More

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Development as Freedom Amartya SenDevelopment as Freedom

Amartya Sen
The definition of “development” is elusive, to say the least. Yet, experts in the field use the term constantly without explaining what they mean. Amartya Sen committed an entire book to defining the term in Development as Freedom. Rather than focusing on the widely accepted quantifiable statistics like income and infant mortality to determine a community’s state of development, Sen writes that these only reflect… Read More

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Dead Aid Dambisa MoyoDead Aid

Dambisa Moyo
The debate about the goals, nature, and effectiveness of aid to the developing world has raged for decades. In recent years, these debates have focused upon aid to Africa as donors struggle to determine why their efforts haven’t made greater gains on the continent. Dambisa Moyo has injected a new idea that has turned the debate upside-down. In Dead Aid, she asserts that aid has not only been ineffective, but has ultimately slowed development through… Read More

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Confessions of an Economic Hit Man John PerkinsConfessions of an Economic Hit Man

John Perkins
John Perkins was part of a small and secretive sect among international corporate executives known as “Economic Hit Men” or EHMs. After nearly 30 years as an EHM, this book exposes the little known history of how a few pivotal figures changed the course of world history. Read More

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Hot Flat and Crowded Thomas FriedmanHot Flat and Crowded

Thomas Friedman
While global climate change tends to take the front seat in arguments in favor of energy policy and research, Thomas Friedman’s Hot, Flat, and Crowded takes a different approach: sustainable energy policy and technology is the future of the global economy. Further, he argues, the country that leads the way in both will lead the globe economically and politically in the decades to come. Read More

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Savages Joe KaneSavages

Joe Kane
The Huaorani were, until a few decades ago, one of the few truly isolated human societies left in the world. Living in the inhospitable Amazon lowlands of eastern Ecuador, they were known for centuries as violent defenders of the forest they called home as hunter-gatherers. Today, their rivers are poisoned, cancer and birth defect rates have skyrocketed, and their control of the forest they inhabit has largely left their hands. Read More

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Cradle to Cradle William McDonoughCradle to Cradle

William McDonough and Michael Braungart
For decades, the modern environmental movement has been built upon the assumption that salvation will come through doing “less bad.” Policy at all levels focuses primarily upon limiting pollution, reducing waste, and reducing resource use (though this last one is pretty rare). William McDonough and Michael Braungart’s Cradle to Cradle presents a radical shift in thinking: don’t regulate toward “less bad,” design toward “more good.” Read More

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Pedagogy of the Oppressed Paulo FreirePedagogy of the Oppressed

Paulo Freire
There are only a few areas of development that are considered absolutes and included in every nation’s plan for growth and prosperity. Education is certainly one of them. Yet, the concept of what it means to “educate” someone is rarely examined. Perhaps, like the term “development”, education simply is too broad, too sticky, too loaded a topic for anything less than a deep philosophical tome. Paulo Freire’s seminal work Pedagogy of the Oppressed attempts to drive to the heart of the issue. Read More

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Oracle Bones Peter HesslerOracle Bones

Peter Hessler
China is… well… really difficult to describe. It’s nearly impossible to pick up a newspaper or magazine these days without finding a story about it. We receive snippets about China’s economy, pollution, energy policy, human rights record, Olympic aspirations, and transition from Communism to Market-Socialism. Peter Hessler’s National Book Award winning Oracle Bones takes us beyond surface level into the reality of day-to-day Chinese life. Read More

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First They Killed My Father Loung UngFirst They Killed my Father

Loung Ung
In Cambodia, between 1975 and 1979, the Khmer Rouge attempted to create a completely agrarian society. In order to do so, they evacuated the cities and sent their inhabitants to the countryside to work in labor camps. So began the genocide that killed two million people, targeting the educated people, previous government officials and anyone who questioned their new society. Read More

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Omnivore's Dilemma Michael PollanThe Omnivore’s Dilemma

Michael Pollan
Michael Pollan researched The Omnivore’s Dilemma in an effort to better understand the relationship between humans and food. Throughout the book, Pollan intertwines scientific descriptions of the various ways we obtain food as humans (industrial production, sustainable farming, and hunting/gathering) with an exploration of the philosophies that undergird the human relationship with food. Read More

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In Spite of the Gods Edward LuceIn Spite of the Gods

Edward Luce
India is so often referred to as an enigma. It’s the land of Gandhi and a deep consciousness of human equality, while the caste system continues to discriminate among Indians, particularly in rural areas. Call centers and the burgeoning IT sector show a rapidly growing middle class, though India maintains the single largest population of people living in extreme poverty (less than $1.25/day). Read More

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Mountains Beyond Mountains Tracy KidderMountains Beyond Mountains

Tracy Kidder
Paul Farmer rose from a childhood in poverty in the US to earn his MD from Harvard Medical School – with which he continued to live in poverty. Kidder’s compelling story of Farmer’s life and work chronicles his efforts to address public health needs in developing communities around the world including Haiti, Peru, and inner city Boston. Read More

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Three Letter Plague Jonny SteinbergThree Letter Plague

Jonny Steinberg
It’s often said that HIV/AIDS is a social disease. Jonny Steinberg illustrates this point brilliantly. A White South African journalist, he set out in 2005 to understand the factors that prevent South Africans from pursuing testing and treatment for a disease that infects 20% of the country and has killed nearly 500,000 of their countrymen. Read More

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There Are No Children Here Alex KotlowitzThere Are No Children Here

Alex Kotlowitz
Inner city Chicago faces the same problems urban communities throughout the US do: gang violence, drug trafficking, high unemployment, failing schools, and death and incarceration rates for young African American and Latino males that are astounding. There Are No Children Here illustrates these realities by chronicling the experiences of two young boys who confront these challenges each day. Read More

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Capitalism's Achilles Heel Raymond BakerCapitalism’s Achilles Heel

Raymond Baker
International banking and financial systems, despite their recent time in the spotlight, will never be sexy topics. Money laundering and off shore banking are tied in our collective consciousness to corrupt government officials and drug trafficking. But, they are rarely associated with international development. In Capitalism’s Achilles Heel, Raymond Baker sheds light on one of the most significant, and possibly most neglected, aspects of international development. Read More

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Half the Sky Kristof WuDunnHalf the Sky

Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
Women are oppressed. Let there be no doubt – that is an exceptionally charged statement. The emotional charge of it is most directly rooted in the horrific realities faced by many millions of women and girls around the globe every day. Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s Half the Sky is an effort to illustrate some of those circumstances and explore the socio-political, economic, and cultural reasons for them. Read More

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How to Change the World David BorensteinHow to Change the World

David Bornstein
Social entrepreneurship is a simple idea that might just change the world: create, market, and sell a product with the express intent of improving the world. In How to Change the World, David Bornstein explores the power of this concept through a series of vignettes highlighting the various permutations this concept has taken in the hands of agents of change around the globe. Read More

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Delivering Development Edward CarrDelivering Development

Edward Carr
Development often fails. This is not a new premise. Many have written about it. But Edward Carr offers a fascinating perspective on why he believes this is true in Delivering Development. He begins by providing an alternative context for thinking about and defining development. Without going too deeply into his framing of his argument, perhaps one of the most unique points he makes is the human tendency toward shortsightedness. Read More

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