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Capsule Review

The Upside of Down: Why the Rise of the Rest Is Good for the West

In This Review

The Upside of Down: Why the Rise of the Rest is Good for the West
The Upside of Down: Why the Rise of the Rest is Good for the West
By Charles Kenny
Basic Books, 2014, 256 pp. $26.99 Purchase

In this lively little book, Kenny argues that the United States should embrace, not resist, a world in which “the rest” catch up with the West. He rejects the idea that the ongoing global economic transition is the result of U.S. decline or failure; rather, it is a story of non-Western countries getting their economic acts together, aided in no small part by Washington’s leadership in maintaining an open and multilateral system. The book offers a steady stream of statistics to show how the West will in fact be richer in a world where the developing countries thrive. Kenny worries about the environmental implications of a world in which billions more people approach Western standards of living, but he has faith that free markets, education, and innovation will offset those costs. His convincing conclusion argues that Western countries should take steps now to lock in global rules and institutions that will protect their interests and values in a future in which they will be less powerful. The main flaw with Kenny’s optimistic vision is that it does not adequately address the age-old dilemmas of security competition and geopolitical struggle.

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