Financial Times
December 6, 1998
London

Pleasures and provocationís
FT critics and guest writers choose the books they enjoyed most in 1998

Doris Lessing

Banker to the poor by Muhammad with Alan Jolis (Aurum press £18.95) is the story of an extraordinary achlevervent. In 1974 Professor Yunus, a Bangladesh economist Interviewed in a poor village a woman stoolmaker who dad every week to borrow the equivalent of 15d (6p) to buy the raw bamboo. When this waw paid back she dah made a penny profit. Professor Yunus saw in her the dilemma of poor people all over the world, and after rebuffs, scorn, and scepticism from orthodox banks, set up the Grameen Bank, which lends minute sums of money to people who cannot get credit. "Micro credit" was born. This scheme has riumphantly worked and whole districts in many countries have been transformed.

It has always seemed to me improbable that these ancient peoples were grunting primitives not far off apes and now it turns out in Last Civilisations of the Stone Age by Richard rudgley (Century, £17.99)- that they practised advanced surgery and medicine, used sophisticated accounting systems and mining techniques processed and preserved food, travelled made calendars. When Picasso saw their art he said: "We have invented nothing" As we go deeper into the past we find not savages but people who originated many of the techniques we use today.