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USAID’s Raj Shah’s five favorite books on development

Rajiv Shah, director USAID, speaking in Seattle

Here, from The Browser, are USAID director Rajiv Shah’s top five books on development:

1. A Farewell to Alms by Gregory Clark. Shah says he likes it because of “its focus on core economic growth as the driver of divergence.” Not sure what that means. Guess I need to read it.

2. Millions Saved by Ruth Levine. Shah likes this book because it’s about “success stories in global health.”

3. The Alchemy of Air by Thomas Hager. This description of the discovery of nitrogen fertilizer, the USAID director says, “reminds us of the serendipity of scientific inquiry.”

4. The Doubly Green Revolution by Gordon Conway. “A dense read,” says Shah, by the former president of the Rockefeller Foundation about the so-called Green Revolution in agriculture and how to update it for today.

5. Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid by CK Prahalad. This book, notes Shah, “argues that the billions (of people) at the bottom of the socio-economic pyramid can be helped profitably.”

So there you have it. Feel free to suggest any books Raj should read since the former Gates Foundation program manager is now running perhaps the world’s leading foreign aid agency — and trying to improve its effectiveness.


About Author

Tom Paulson

Tom Paulson is founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere. Prior to operating this online news site, he reported on science,  medicine, health policy, aid and development for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Contact him at tom[at] or follow him on Twitter @tompaulson.