Book: The Great Surge

The Great Surge: The Ascent of the Developing World

The Great SurgeBy Dr. Steven Radelet
Donald F. McHenry Chair in Global Human Development
Director, Global Human Development Program

The untold story of the global poor today: A distinguished expert and advisor to developing nations reveals how we’ve reduced poverty, increased incomes, improved health, curbed violence, and spread democracy—and how to ensure the improvements continue.

Read Nicholas Kristof's article in The New York Times
Watch Dr. Radelet discuss his book with GHD student Lauren Corke
Read the Walsh Wire article
Find The Great Surge on Amazon
Listen to an interview with Dr. Radelet on Tiny Spark

Video - Is Global Poverty Actually on the Decline?

The Great Surge Book Launch - A Global Futures Initiative Event

Hellman-RadeletNovember 16, 2015
Riggs Library, Healy Hall
Georgetown University

Dr. Radelet engaged in discussion with SFS Dean Joel Hellman regarding his new book and what it suggests for the future of global development, both the technological advances that may continue to empower the world's poor, and the challenges, including climate change and population growth, that could reverse the upward trend. Read more about the event here.

About the Book

The untold story of the global poor today: A distinguished expert and advisor to developing nations reveals how we’ve reduced poverty, increased incomes, improved health, curbed violence, and spread democracy—and how to ensure the improvements continue.

We live today at a time of great progress among the global poor. Never before have so many people, in so many developing countries, made so much progress. Most people believe the opposite: that with a few exceptions like China and India, the majority of developing countries are hopelessly mired in deep poverty, led by inept dictators, and living with pervasive famine, widespread disease, constant violence, and little hope for change. But a major transformation is underway—and has been for two decades now. Since the early 1990s more than 700 million people have been lifted out of extreme poverty, six million fewer children die every year from disease, tens of millions more girls are in school, millions more people have access to clean water, and democracy—often fragile and imperfect—has become the norm in developing countries around the world.

The Great Surge tells the remarkable story of this unprecedented economic, social, and political transformation. It shows how the end of the Cold War, the development of new technologies, globalization, courageous local leadership, and in some cases, good fortune, have combined to dramatically improve the fate of hundreds of millions of people in poor countries around the world. Most importantly, The Great Surge reveals how we can fight the changing tides of climate change, resource demand, economic and political mismanagement, and demographic pressures to accelerate the political, economic, and social development that has been helping the poorest of the poor around the world.

Praise for The Great Surge

"Powerful, lucid, and revelatory, The Great Surge makes a vital argument and offers indispensable prescriptions about sustaining global economic progress into the future."
George Soros, chairman of Soros Fund Management

"Steven Radelet in a brilliant new book demonstrates out how the world has actually gotten better in recent years, not by a little but by a lot. This is a careful antidote to today's fashionable pessimism and should be read by everyone."
Francis Fukuyama, author of The End of History

"With the airwaves filled with news of insurrection, desperation, and still stubborn diseases, this book jars you out of a clichéd response. With his typical care and detail, Steve describes humanity’s greatest hits over the last twenty years--never have we lived in a time when so many are doing so well. The job surely isn’t done, but these pages provide the evidence the job can be done, if we choose to do it."
Bono, lead singer of U2 and co-founder of ONE and (RED)

"Steven Radelet is one of the leading development thinkers and practitioners in the world today. This captivating book shows that progress for the world's poor is not just possible, it is happening right now all around the world."
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia

"You won’t see this in the everyday news headlines, but our world is making historic progress. Extreme poverty and disease are declining while school enrollment and self-government are on the rise. Georgetown professor Steven Radelet has written an uplifting, spirited and compelling book on what he calls The Great Surge--an ongoing global transformation we’re privileged not only to witness but to help bring about. An effervescent roadmap to the recent past and what comes next!"
Muhtar Kent, Chairman and CEO,The Coca-Cola Company

"The Great Surge is one of the most optimistic and compelling looks at global development of our time. It challenges us to rethink both economic progress and environmental sustainability, especially when they come in conflict. While this dilemma has mystified many development experts for decades, Radelet charts a path forward that is not only possible, but imperative."
Howard W. Buffett, lecturer in International and Public Affairs, Columbia University

"At a time when doom, danger, and disaster dominate analysis of global trends, Steven Radelet pushes back against the pessimists with mountains of evidence and breathtaking vision. The Great Surge tells the other side of the story of global change over the past two decades, a story of unprecedented human progress in reducing poverty, hunger, illiteracy, oppression, childhood deaths, and even (despite the headlines) violent conflict. This is far from a naive book. A leading development economist with deeply policy experience, Radelet readily acknowledges the enormous work still to be done, and the tenacious obstacles that persist. But in lucidly exposing the factors that have delivered transformative development progress, he shows us how leadership and cooperation at the global and developing country levels, combined with continued investments in technology, can continue to bring reductions in human misery that were once nearly beyond imagination. This is a stunning, wise, and deeply hopeful book that anyone concerned about global development must read."
Larry Diamond, Stanford University

"[Radelet] succeeds in making a possibly counterintuitive argument: notwithstanding the often depressing nature of news coverage of developing countries, this era has seen the most ‘progress among the global poor in the history of the world’…his accessible and articulate presentation is likely to convince readers that the story of global development is more complex, and positive, than many believe…this is a refreshing counterperspective that can only enhance informed debate on the topic."
Publishers Weekly







About the Author

STEVEN RADELET is the Donald F. McHenry Chair in Global Human Development and Director of the Global Human Development Program.  His work focuses on economic growth, poverty reduction, foreign aid, and debt, primarily in Africa and Asia. Dr. Radelet has extensive experience as a policy maker in the U.S. Government; as an adviser to developing country leaders; and as a researcher, teacher and writer. He previously served as Chief Economist for USAID, Senior Adviser for Development to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Africa, the Middle East and Asia. He currently serves as an economic adviser to the Presidents of Liberia and Malawi. He spent four years as an adviser to the Ministry of Finance in Jakarta, Indonesia, and two years as adviser in the Ministry of Finance in The Gambia. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Western Samoa. From 2002 to 2009, Dr. Radelet was Senior Fellow at the Center for Global Development. From 1990 to 2000, he was on the faculty of Harvard University, where he was a Fellow at the Harvard Institute for International Development (HIID) and a Lecturer on Economics and Public Policy. He holds a PhD in public policy from Harvard University.