In This Review

The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time

The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time
By Jeffrey D. Sachs
396 pp, Penguin Press, 2005

This unusual book is part autobiographical odyssey of Sachs' consulting with countries in crisis, part passionate yet reasoned program to eliminate extreme poverty. Sachs began his crisis consulting in Bolivia in the mid-1980s and went on to work with Poland in 1989, Russia in 1992 and 1993, and countless other countries since. These experiences gave the scholarly Sachs on-the-ground experience and brought him into occasional confrontation with the IMF, the doctrine of which he considered poorly suited to the actual problems at hand. The main thrust of his book, however, builds on his time in sub-Saharan Africa, where he has seen extreme poverty, malnutrition, and disease on a scale not previously encountered and been appalled by the meager efforts of the international community to help Africans out of the poverty trap. The last third of the book, accordingly, makes the case for a globally coordinated and well-funded program -- emphasizing practical improvements in health, education, and infrastructure -- to eliminate extreme poverty by 2025 (a logical extension of the UN's Millennium Development Goals, which aim to halve extreme poverty by 2015). The proposal is bold, ambitious, and worthy. Sachs pays too little attention, however, to obstacles created by civil disorder, which plagues dozens of poor countries, especially in Africa.