Amy Chua's first book World on Fire, was a fascinating mix of personal and global observations about how small communities make big economic impacts within their larger societies. Here, Chua examines all of the global powers (by her definition) throughout recorded history. Her conclusion is that they all practiced what she calls strategic tolerance: a willingness to embrace new ideas and make use of capable people, whatever their provenance.
Strategic tolerance is an interesting concept. It articulates the self-interested motivations for diversity, as independent from altruistic motives. Chua notes that Genghis Khan didn't form his inner circle from widely diverse ethnic and religious groups because he saw diversity as a social good. He merely wanted the best and brightest people available, so as to be a successful as possible. Diversity has an inherent moral value, at least to some people, including me. Chua articulates the practical benefits that have historically motivated diversity, and documents the world-changing consequences.