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Review Essay

The Man Without a Plan

In This Review

The White Man's Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good

The White Man's Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good
By William Easterly
Penguin Press, 2006, 417 pp. $27.95 Purchase

"Be thine own palace," wrote John Donne, "or the world's thy jail." William Easterly does not invoke this particular metaphor in The White Man's Burden, but this exciting -- and excited -- book is about the imprisonment of the world's poor in the trap of international aid, where "planners" have incarcerated the wretched of the earth. The poor may not have a "palace" to fall back on, battered as they are by grinding privation, massive illiteracy, and the scourge of epidemics. But Easterly -- a former World Bank economist who now teaches at New York University -- nevertheless argues that in the fight against global poverty, "the right plan is to have no plan."

In contrast to the typically well-meaning but allegedly always injurious "planners," the heroes of Easterly's book are those whom he calls "searchers." The division between the planners and the searchers, as seen by Easterly, could not

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