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The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley • popular science • free trade

The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves - book cover - free trade

As we are constantly bombarded with doom prophesies the book makes a really good job and puts all of that into greater perspective. Rational Optimist starts with a thesis that we are way better off than we ever were. The book states that our lives have improved significantly in terms of wealth, nutrition, life expectancy, literacy and many other measures. Matt Ridley makes convincing arguments that things will continue to improve. The book also serves as a defence of free trade and globalisation.  We don’t need to agree with the Ridley theme of optimism for the future to make this book worthwhile to read. The book offers much more than the title suggests.

The Rational Optimist seeks to explain how humans continuously managed to improve their quality of life. Honestly, after 1/3 of the book, I thought that its content will be exactly the same as one of my previous books – Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. The facts such as the impact of fire on our brain and guts, collective thinking and collective intelligence, free trade etc. seeme obvious. But then he switches his attention to issues connected with energy consumption, the energy efficiency of different fuels, their benefits and drawbacks. And believe me, the majority of the modern well-formulated eco-statements seem to be questionable. Last but not least, the book is written with good humour which makes the reading even more appealing.

The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves
by Matt Ridley

Final rating:

Interesting story
Complexity of ideas
Flourish language

Book details:

Size: 448 pages
Published: 2010


Other information and reviews of this book on Goodreads:

Other useful links:
Matt Ridley on Wikipedia:
Ridley’s website:
Matt Ridley’s blog:
Other book about globalisation: The World Is Flat by Thomas Friedman

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