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World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability (Paperback)

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For over a decade now, the reigning consensus has held that the combination of free markets and democracy would transform the third world and sweep away the ethnic hatred and religious zealotry associated with underdevelopment. In this astute, original, and surprising investigation of the true impact of globalization, Yale Law School professor Amy Chua explains why many developing countries are in fact consumed by ethnic violence after adopting free market democracy.

Chua shows how in non-Western countries around the globe, free markets have concentrated starkly disproportionate wealth in the hands of a resented ethnic minority. These “market-dominant minorities” – Chinese in Southeast Asia, Croatians in the former Yugoslavia, whites in Latin America and South Africa, Indians in East Africa, Lebanese in West Africa, Jews in post-communist Russia – become objects of violent hatred. At the same time, democracy empowers the impoverished majority, unleashing ethnic demagoguery, confiscation, and sometimes genocidal revenge. She also argues that the United States has become the world’s most visible market-dominant minority, a fact that helps explain the rising tide of anti-Americanism around the world. Chua is a friend of globalization, but she urges us to find ways to spread its benefits and curb its most destructive aspects.

About the Author


Amy Chua is a professor at Yale Law School. She lectures frequently on the effects of globalization to government, business, and academic groups around the world. She lives in New Haven, Connecticut.

Praise for World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability…


"Provocative, evocative, nuanced, and highly readable. . . . Amy Chua deserves our gratitude." —The Washington Post

“Fascinating and disturbing . . . with an authority born of rigorous research.” —BusinessWeek

World on Fire deserves to be widely read. It is a welcome antidote to the recycled mantras of the market-cheering right and the tired rhetoric of the anti-globalization left.” —The American Prospect

"Superb. . . . Encourages us to confront the world as it is, and our actual place in it, with a humane and intellectually formidable imagination." —The New York Observer

"A riveting and original book that challenges key tenets of American political faith." —The Baltimore Sun

“This hard-hitting book should be read by everyone who still imagines that free markets can solve all the world’s ills. Chua’s work is provocative, creative, and important; it turns conventional wisdom on its head, and no one interested in globalization can afford to ignore it.”—Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By In America

“Provocative. . . . Shocking. . . . It should make Americans think twice about exporting their political culture wholesale without a thought of who dislikes whom.”—Seattle Times

“[World on Fire] makes for compelling reading and sounds a sobering warning that should be heeded by all supporters and critics of globalization.” —Milwaukee Journal–Sentinel

“A profound book, written in plain English, and challenging the very foundations of some glib—and dangerous—assumptions behind American foreign policy. This book should be read in the highest circles of decision-making, as well as by all those who like to consider themselves ‘thinking people.’ It should provoke some re-thinking—and, for some, really thinking for the first time.”—Thomas Sowell, Hoover Institution, and author of Ethnic America, Race and Culture

“A brilliant, groundbreaking assault on the prevailing wisdom that the American political and economic model is a one-stop solution to the world’s woes.” —Elle

“Grim and thoughtful. . . . A clear-headed incisive diagnosis of the many ethnic ills of the globalizing era.” —Mother Jones

“Clear and persuasive. . . . Chua is a careful, precise writer.” —Salon

“Chua’s book is a lucid, powerfully argued, and important contribution to the debate over the forces and factors shaping the twenty-first century world.” —Strobe Talbott, President, The Brookings Institution, and author of The Age of Terror: America and the World After September 11

“A cogent analysis...convincingly reason[ed].”—The Boston Herald

“Chua offers a fundamentally new perspective on how to help sustain globalization by spreading its benefits while curbing its most destructive aspects. . . . Compelling.” —The Tampa Tribune

“Remarkably illuminating. . . . I cannot think of another work over the past couple of decades that reveals more about the disturbing persistence internationally of racial and ethnic conflicts.” —Randall Kennedy, author of Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word

“Drawing on examples from Burma to Bolivia, Chua paints a nuanced picture of ethnic and national fault lines. . . . [She] fleshes out the idea that globalization is not a magical elixir for developing nations.” —Newsweek

“A barrage of examples supports Chua’s thesis, each described with careful consideration of the different circumstances of different nations. . . . [T]old with a dramatic flair. . .” – The Weekly Standard

“The greatest tribute to any book is the conviction upon closing it that the senseless finally makes sense. That’s the feeling left by Amy Chua’s World on Fire.” —The Washington Post

Product Details ISBN-10: 0385721862
ISBN-13: 9780385721868
Published: Anchor, 01/06/2004
Pages: 368
Language: English