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The Idealist

The Idealist

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Add This - The Idealist

Written by Nina MunkAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Nina Munk

  • Format: Trade Paperback, 288 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor
  • On Sale: October 7, 2014
  • Price: $15.95
  • ISBN: 978-0-7679-2942-4 (0-7679-2942-X)
Also available as an unabridged audiobook download, eBook and a hardcover.
about this book

BloombergForbesThe Spectator

In 2006, Jeffrey Sachs—celebrated economist, special advisor to the Secretary General of the United Nations, and author of the influential bestseller The End of Poverty— launched the Millennium Villages Project, a daring, $120-million experiment designed to test his theories about ending poverty. For six years, Nina Munk shadowed Sachs on his trips to Africa, listened in on conversations with heads-of-state and humanitarian organizations, and immersed herself in the lives of people in two remote African villages. Munk came to understand the real-life issues that challenge Sachs’s formula for ending global poverty. The Idealist is the profound and moving story of what happens when the abstract theories of a brilliant, driven man meet the realities of human life.

Recipient of Foreign Policy's 2013 Albie Award
Canada's National Business Book Award Finalist
ISI’s Henry and Anne Paolucci Book Award Nominee

"Munk draws a nuanced portrait of Sachs and his Millennium Villages Project. . . . worth taking the time to read it. It’s a valuable – and, at times, heartbreaking – cautionary tale." —Bill Gates

"A sharply rendered and deeply disillusioned account of [Jeffrey Sachs'] personal quest to end poverty. . . . With impressive persistence, unflagging empathy and journalistic derring-do, Ms. Munk returns over a five-year period to Dertu and one other village to document the project's progress. . . . Heartbreaking." —The Wall Street Journal

"One of the most readable and evocative accounts of foreign aid ever written, The Idealist shows that virtually nothing about such aid is ever easy. . . . A masterful tale of good intentions gone wrong." —Barrons

The Idealist is the profound and moving story of what happens when the abstract theories of a brilliant, driven man meet the reality of human life. Munk’s masterpiece . . . . is a classic account of how technocratic and externally directed economic development must fail. Munk, a reporter for Vanity Fair, wanted to work on global poverty, and who better to shadow than Sachs, the ‘idealist’ of the title? But idealism comes with ignorance and hubris, and Munk’s documentation of the failure of the Millennium Development Villages, in two of which she lived, ranks with Joseph Conrad in documenting an African descent into failure, destruction and betrayal.”  —Angus Deaton, The Chronicle of Higher Education (UK)

"Writing accessibly about development economics is a high-wire act, but Munk accomplishes it brilliantly. She shadows Sachs as he cajoles world leaders to fund his Millennium projects, and also visits those places to tell the whole story. The final chapter, in which Munk interviews a chastened Sachs (usually an oxymoron), is particularly devastating." —Foreign Policy

"A fascinating portrait of an innovative thinker as well as a fair-minded examination of his methods. It’s also a testament to the enduring value of old-fashioned, shoe-leather reporting—it should be read not just in policy circles but also at J-schools." —Vanity Fair

“Magnificent. . . . An absolute must-read for anyone who is interested in doing good for those in need.” —The Christian Science Monitor

"Munk tracks a messianic economist’s quixotic attempts to show that he can end African poverty. In one village his team gets farmers to grow maize instead of traditional matoke; there are no buyers for the bumper crop, and rats end up eating much of it. Munk describes a growing gulf between good intentions and hard reality with nuance and sensitivity." —Forbes

"An engaging, eye-opening read"—The Guardian

"A highly readable examination of Jeffrey Sachs’s Millennium Villages Project in Africa." —Financial Times