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A brilliant, sobering, highly readable, and utterly fascinating rumination on the hubris at the heart of human development and the pitfalls we still may have time to avoid
Each time history repeats itself, the cost goes up. We live at a time of runaway growth in human numbers, consumption, and technology. The great question we now face is how, and whether, this can go on. Ronald Wright argues that our modern predicament, though new in scale, is as old as humankind.
A Short History of Progress is nothing less than a concise history of the world since Neanderthal times, elegantly written, brilliantly conceived, and stunningly clear in its warming to us now. Wright shows how human beings have a way of walking into “progress traps,” beginning with the worldwide slaughter of big game in the Stone Age. The same pattern of overconsumption then took a new form as many of the world’s most creative civilizations–Mesopotamia, the Maya, the Roman Empire–fell victim to their own success.
Only by understanding our pattern of progress and disaster, Wright contends, can we hope to change our ways and ensure that civilization has a longterm future.
“[Ronald Wright] is an historical philosopher with a profound understanding of other cultures.”–Jan Morris
“A wise, timely, and brilliant book.”–Toronto Globe and Mail