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Publisher's Summary

In the tradition of Why Nations Fail, this book solves one of the great puzzles of history: Why did the West become the most powerful civilization in the world?

Western exceptionalism - the idea that European civilizations are freer, wealthier, and less violent - is a widespread and powerful political idea. It has been a source of peace and prosperity in some societies, and of ethnic cleansing and havoc in others.

Yet in The Invention of Power, Bruce Bueno de Mesquita draws on his expertise in political maneuvering, deal-making, and game theory to present a revolutionary new theory of Western exceptionalism: that a single, rarely discussed event in the 12th century changed the course of European and world history. By creating a compromise between churches and nation-states that, in effect, traded money for power and power for money, the 1122 Concordat of Worms incentivized economic growth, facilitated secularization, and improved the lot of the citizenry, all of which set European countries on a course for prosperity. In the centuries since, countries that have had a similar dynamic of competition between church and state have been consistently better off than those that have not.

The Invention of Power upends conventional thinking about European culture, religion, and race and presents a persuasive new vision of world history.  

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2022 Bruce Bueno de Mesquita (P)2022 PublicAffairs

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Blah, blah, blah.

Could not finish. Very poorly edited, as I am sure everything could be said with fewer words and less repitition. Also, author is in love with his methodology. While I understand he is proud, he takes too much joy in it, taking away from his thesis.

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Facinating and mostly compelling account

This title takes a deep dive at applying Bueno de Mesquita's Selectorate Theory to the competition between Church and State in Europe. Detractors of the Selectorate theory can no doubt poke holes in his argument for lack of historical and social nuance, but the overarching logic and innovative measures makes for an interesting if not compelling account. Bueno de Mesquita is no friend, but no foe either to Church or State giving an "honest" secular political economic account about how competition between Church and State, for silver (and souls), was THE significant shaping event of Western Exceptionalism. He takes on explaining why Catholic Europe tends to be poorer than protestant Europe, attempts to turn Weber's Protestant Ethic and Tilly's "War makes the State" on its head, as well as makes a case for how Church-Crown competition shaped a number of key democractizing innovations through out Europe (e.g. Magna Carta). It meshes well with other accounts (To me Francis Fukuyama comes to mind) who make the argument that the Investiture Conflict sewed the first seeds of accountable government in Europe. My one general critique is the author could be accused of being paid by the word, it can seem somewhat repetitious at points but not so bad as to undermine a sense of progress through the account. If you liked the Dictators Handbook, or any of his other writings this will not disappoint. Over all well worth the listen or read.

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  • Jd
  • 02-09-22

I expected more breadth and depth

A very narrow view of the powers that led to western civilization. The Church gets hijacked by the Roman empire. The Roman empire falls. The Church asserts its own power. States rise into nations. Nations take power from Catholic church. The end.