You know when you read one of those books and it stays with you? The kind where you'll be walking down the street and a passage or thought from the book will pop into your head, you'll mull it over for a few minutes, and get something more out of it than you did during your first read? Common Wealth: Economics For a Crowded Planet is that book for me.
First of all, Jeffrey Sachs is an economist who I'm told is completely brilliant. Which I realize does not necessarily recommend the book. I mean, economists are not exactly considered to be a barrel of laughs. But I will say that from what I hear Sachs has a wonderful soul...he's not some supply/demand curve robot, but really cares about the plight of the poor around the world, and that compassion comes through in his writing.
The book essentially describes the broad problems we, the world, have...environmental, social, political, moral...the whole shebang. Now I often find these types of treatises irritating. They usually tell me things I already know, depress the hell out of me and rarely introduce solutions to the problems described. But as I mentioned, Sachs is brilliant. Hence, just when I think I already know the issue that he writes about inside and out, he puts a new spin on it, and makes me think about it in a completely different way. Plus which, he puts what seem like large problems in perspective by proposing solutions that, while not easy, seem at least feasible on some level.
Now you need to be pretty mentally alert when you read this, otherwise it feels like a bit of a slog. But I feel strongly that this is an important book to read, both to give us all an awareness of what the causes of what seem like utterly intractable problems are, and to give a sense of how solvable they are if the rich countries in the world were to work in concert. I fully believe that it is worth the effort required to make it through, and hope you find the same to be true.