I second Megan McArdle’s endorsement of Thomas Friedman’s Moral Consequence of Economic Growth. I also agree that the third part of the book isn’t so hot. Megan says that Friedman’s policy prescriptions are timid and I found my interventionist, the government can solve everything!, flag waving a bunch while reading that section, too.
Otherwise, the book is a great economic history of the U.S. and a good history of Europe. If you lack the time to read the whole thing, you’d be safe reading the middle section.