Albert Einstein called progress 'the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal', and in this timely book Ronald Wright shows how the twentieth century's runaway growth in human population, consumption, and technology have placed a murderous burden on the planet. Asking where this growth lead, whether it can be consolidated or sustained and what kind of world the present bequeathing to the future, he argues that our modern predicament is as old as civilisation, a 10,000-year experiment we have participated in but seldom controlled. Only by understanding the patterns of triumph and disaster that humanity has repeated since the Stone Age can we recognise the experiment's inherent dangers, and, with luck and wisdom, shape its outcome.
Each time history repeats itself, the cost goes up. The twentieth centurya time of unprecedented progresshas produced a tremendous strain on the very elements that comprise life itself: This raises the key question of the twenty-first century: How much longer can this go on? With wit and erudition, Ronald Wright lays out a-convincing case that history has always provided an answer, whether we care to notice or not. From Neanderthal man to the Sumerians to the Roman Empire, A Short History of Progress dissects the cyclical nature of humanity's development and demise, the 10,000-year old experiment that we've unleashed but have yet to control. It is Wright's contention that only by understanding and ultimately breaking from the patterns of progress and disaster that humanity has repeated around the world since the Stone Age can we avoid the onset of a new Dark Age. Wright illustrates how various cultures throughout history have literally manufactured their own end by producing an overabundance of innovation and stripping bare the very elements that allowed them to initially advance. Wright's book is brilliant a fascinating rumination on the hubris at the heart of human development and the pitfalls we still may have time to avoid.
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