The Lords of Poverty: The Power, Prestige, and Corruption of the International Aid Business Paperback – 1994
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The Lords of Poverty: The Power, Prestige, and Corruption of the International Aid Business
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Top Customer Reviews
The book is one of the most daming that I have read. Although short the book marshals its facts and explains every argument with a clarity that is breathtaking.
The arguments are that the organisations which are involved in providing aid are incompetent. There are a number of reasons for the incompetance but all orginsations which deal with aid are incompetant and corrupt.
At the head of the list is the world bank. The world bank is willing to make grants of aid conditional on changes to monetary policy and dismanteling of anti competative market systems but it never wants to make aid conditional on introducing human rights or democracy. As a result changes to make the market more competative almost always damage the poor by for example the removal of food subsidies. The benifits of World Bank loans almost always flow to the middle class or urban dwellers. The Indian Economist Sen has shown that democracies do not have famines. If the world bank was to make democracy the condition of aid packages it would be more likely to reduce famines in these countries. In fact govermental corruption or incompetance is the real reason for the sorts of problems which require aid in the first place.
The world bank is addicted to large capital intensive projects. Most of these turn out to be white elephants and have unsustainable maintence costs. Again the benifits of electification or transport benifits mainly the urban centres.Read more ›
Some of the foregoing reviews have been pinned mainly on the emotion of the debate regarding foreign assistance, and not on the facts of the achievement thereof.
I'd like to put forth the case that, whatever may have been the operating environment during Mr. Hancock's experience, things have changed. They have changed with regard to the type of people that are working in the international development community, and the type of people who work for international NGOs. Whatever Viola P. Renya might think, my experience has shown that these are not people who believe they have 'dyed and gone to haven' (SIC), because they 'scored' a job with CARE or Save the Children. They are people who have left much more lucrative employment, in some cases, to help their fellow-people.
The second half of the book, however, is little more than a rant during which the author mocks and insults aid and development workers for about 100 pages. The vitriolic quality of writing makes one wonder if an aid worker dumped him at some point. You could skip this whole part of the book and be better off for it.
Maybe I take it personally since I'm an aid worker, but I can tell you with authority that Mr. Hancock really doesn't have any idea what he's writing about - he mischaracterizes the lives and personalities of most aid workers and oversimplifies the challenges and complexity of the work. He's angry and bitter about something and I don't think it's corruption or incompetence.
And just for the record: Reviewer Viola P. Reyna doesn't have command of the facts either. Most foreign aid workers are required to pay taxes in their home countries while living abroad. Americans living abroad for more than 330 days a year, whether they are aid workers or oil drillers or whatever, are not required to pay taxes unless they make over $80,000. Everyone is still, however, required to report their incomes and file their tax returns. So contrary to what Viola says, the US Government knows exactly what everyone is making.
Most recent customer reviews
This book is certainly worth consulting for anyone studying international aid institutions. The better parts include those on private aid institutions and their related PR... Read morePublished on Nov. 17 2013 by ogilvie
This is a thought provoking treatise on the AID industry to countries of the third world.It is a well researched book by an insider. Read morePublished on July 16 2000 by Olumide Ogunremi
In his book Lords of Poverty, Mr. Graham Hancock offers a very detailed account of the so-called Aid Industry. Read morePublished on Feb. 25 2000 by Viola P. Reyna
Hancock exposes the seedy underbelly of development/aid as few have dared in the past. Those who live off this industry or have vested interests in spouting an image of Western... Read morePublished on Jan. 6 2000 by Carlo Matthews
Lords of Poverty presents a very coherent argument, backed up by lots of specific experiences *and* data. It is by no means sensationalistic. Read morePublished on Oct. 4 1999
This book is a MUST READ for anyone in international aid, finance, politics, and anyone who wants to make some sense of the aid & development industry. Read morePublished on Sept. 30 1999
While mis-uses of international aid funds certainly do happend, and while development programs sometimes run amuck, Mr Hancock very poorly supports his thesis - that international... Read morePublished on Jan. 22 1999
This book is getting a little dated now, but remains a classic critique of the international aid business. Read morePublished on Oct. 6 1998