How The World Gets Ahead (Wall Street Journal Review of The Coming Prosperity)

It was great to see The Coming Prosperity featured this weekend in the Wall Street Journal‘s Spring book review section, along with Breakout Nations by Ruchir Sharma (head of emerging markets for Morgan Stanley) and Need, Speed, and Greed by Vijay Vaitheeswaran (a global correspondent for The Economist). Here’s what the reviewer, Matthew Rees, had to say about my book:

The optimism that permeates Mr. Vaitheeswaran’s book is also a defining feature of The Coming Prosperity by Philip Auerswald. Never before, he maintains, have more people had more opportunity to create value for society. Driving that value creation are the world’s entrepreneurs.

The Coming Prosperity is filled with vivid profiles of men and women who have succeeded under harsh conditions. (His subjects are not the usual ones—no gush about Steve Jobs here.) One example is Karim Khoja, who founded the first private-sector cellular telephone company in Afghanistan, in 2003. Today that company, Roshan, serves more than five million subscribers and is the country’s single largest taxpayer, generating about 5% of all government revenue.

Elsewhere, Mr. Auerswald describes how Ibrahim Abouleish, the founder of the Sekem Group, managed to thwart government officials, secure financing and pursue his dream of making a “garden in the desert of Egypt” by means of high-yield organic agriculture. And then there is Victoria Hale, a former pharmaceutical-company executive who, after a kind of epiphany, started OneWorld Health, a nonprofit devoted to “matching orphan drugs to neglected diseases.” That big pharma is indeed so big—”no half-billion-dollar market, no product”—meant that there was a niche to fill. She discovered “an entirely new approach to developing drugs and bringing them to market in poor places.”

But The Coming Prosperity is more than a series of case studies. Mr. Auerswald, an associate professor at George Mason University and a senior fellow at the Kauffman Foundation, digs down to show the many ways in which progress depends on creativity, not to mention persistence and luck. The material in The Coming Prosperity is sometimes dense, but Mr. Auerswald compensates with a lively writing style, and the analysis is lightened with personal anecdotes and pop-culture references.

I haven’t yet read the other two books included in this review, but will be doing so. I’m particularly looking forward to Vijay’s book, as he has long impressed me with his insightful writing for The Economist on energy and other global issues.

Photo courtesy of the Sekem Group, www.sekem.com.