The Idealist

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by Nina Munk

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.

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"I know that if you spend enough on each person in a village, you will change their lives. If you put in enough resources-enough mzungu, foreigners, technical assistance, and money-lives change. I know that...The problem is, when you walk, what happens?" —Simon Bland

— Nina Munk, The Idealist