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In this classic text, now in its fourth edition, Gilbert Rist provides a complete and powerful overview of what the idea of development has meant throughout history. He traces it from its origins in the Western view of history, through the early stages of the world system, the rise of US hegemony, and the supposed triumph of third-worldism, through to new concerns about the environment and globalization. In a new chapter on post-development models and ecological dimensions, written against a background of world crisis and ideological disarray, Rist considers possible ways forward and brings the book completely up to date. Throughout, he argues persuasively that development has been no more than a collective delusion, which in reality has resulted only in widening market relations, whatever the intentions of its advocates.