The Pequod Review:
How Asia Works is a superb work of non-fiction, covering not just the history of Asian economic growth, but development economics in general. Joe Studwell’s core question is why countries like China, South Korea and Japan have succeeded economically, while others such as Indonesia, Malaysia and India have struggled. He persuasively shows that early stage land reform is critical (dispersed ownership leads to much higher farm yields), followed by aggressive state-led investment in the manufacturing sector (including protectionism, at least initially), all while strictly regulating financial institutions and capital controls. What makes this so interesting is that Studwell backs up his argument with specific examples and details that show a deep mastery of the region’s history.