A welcome and readable account of the effort of a unique bank in Bangladesh to help that country's poor. Bangladeshi native Muhammad Yunus came to America to study economics and returned home to aid his countrymen. So poor that it is often called ``The Fifth World,'' Bangladesh has high poverty and birth rates and is frequently devastated by monsoons. Its thousands of villages are poor, but Yunus saw that many of the residents had real skills and came to believe that if they were provided with the means to borrow money they could find ways to support themselves. In 1975, he began what became the Grameen Bank (gram is the Bangla word for village) and distributed small loans- -some for as little as five dollars--to the poorest. Most of the loan takers were women. In return, he demanded precise, weekly repayment of the loans and insisted that villagers join together in small groups so that if a member fell behind, the others would encourage her to pay her loan. Yunus kept Grameen bound to its ideals, and today the bank thrives, lending at a fair interest rate while still turning a profit. It has made loans in excess of $1.5 billion and has over one thousand branch offices. The employees of Grameen have an absolute dedication to the bank, and the bank has had an enormous effect on Bangladesh. Bornstein, a journalist, does an excellent job of tracing the growth of the bank in relationship to the country's recent history. He also cogently explains why large public works projects in developing countries are frequently disasters. Yunus's view, one that he teaches to other countries as well, is that the populace of a developing nation must learn to take care of itself. A genuinely amazing story and an interesting read in an age when aid to the poor is demonized.