*The Idealist: Jeffrey Sachs and the Quest to End Poverty*

That is the new Nina Munk semi-biography of part of Sachs’s life, which I consider to be a follow-up to Hayek’s The Counterrevolution of Science.  It is an illuminating look at the limits of engineering approaches to social and economic problems, and the nature of human motivation, as told through the medium of one very colorful (and irascible) life.   The narrative is entertaining, and it does document a shortage of meta-rationality in its major subject, but still this book is not fair to the positive side of the story.  A simple question: how many people have much better lives because of Sachs and his efforts on behalf of economic liberalization and also against poverty?  I suspect the number is high.

You can buy the book here.  There is an excerpt from the book here.  Here is the book’s home page.  Here is a WSJ review.  Here is a Joseph Nocera review.  Here is our MRU video on Sachs’s Millennium Villages Project.


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