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'How Asia Works: Success and Failure in the World’s Most Dynamic Region' by Joe Studwell

If you are a Far East Asian despot this would be a great ‘How-To’ instruction guide to achieve global domination.

What Joe Studwell has done is to identify the key steps that Asian countries have needed to undertake in order to succeed and dominate. Take agriculture for example, it is important to keep it small (good yields) and intense (keeps employment up and thus revolutions down). Joe illustrates his points with a deep knowledge of history   highlighting the consequences of adopting different approaches.

What really brings it all alive, however, is how the reader travels with Joe as he (sometimes literally) helicopters in on particular areas in the region to give a real-world account of the great or dismal results of decisions made. As the book moves on to manufacturing and ends with financing you begin to recognise why some of the names we know, such as Samsung or Hyundai, have risen to global prominence (and why the likes of the Bank Central Asia did not).

Yes, despots should buy it but so should anyone else interested in how Asian economies have got to where they are today and to understand what will help or hinder them tomorrow