Steven Radelet wrote in his book The Great Surge: The Ascent of the Developing World

In 1976 Mao single-handedly and dramatically changed the direction of global poverty with one simple act: he died.”

Radelet is one of the proponents of the “Great Man view.” He follows Thomas Carlyle, who argues that history is a series of events created by Great Man like Mao, Stalin, Alexander The Great, et cetera. Tolstoy argues against this view. History is a mere accident. Which one is true? 

What makes these research great? Because it solves one of most intriguing question in political science. Is leader or crowd who matter? With very large data sample from 130 countries and more than 1,000 national leaders, the researchers employed advanced statistical technique to prove that leaders matter.