An important book for turbulent times-an accessible and engaging economic history of the world, by a leading economic writer. Alan Beattie has long been intrigued by the fates of different countries, economies, and societies-why some fail and some succeed. Here, he weaves together elements of economics, history, politics, and human stories, revealing that societies, economies, and countries usually make concrete choices that determine their destinies. He opens up larger questions about these choices, and why countries make them or are driven to make them, and what those decisions can mean for the future of our global economy. Economic history involves forcing together disciplines that fall naturally in different directions. But Beattie has written a lively and lucid book that successfully marries the two subjects and illustrates their interdependence. In doing so, he addresses such illuminating queries as: Why are oil and diamonds more trouble than they are worth? Why did Argentina fail and the United States succeed? Why doesn't Africa grow cocaine? "False Economy" explains how human beings have shaped their own fates, however unknowingly, and the conditions of the countries they call home. And though it is history, it does not end with the present day. Beattie shows how decisions that are being made now-which have either absorbed or failed to absorb the lessons from economic history-will determine what happens in the future. What does economic history teach us about the present economic unrest? Who will succeed and why? And who will fail? These are questions that we cannot afford to leave unasked . . . or unanswered.