A Short History of Progress

A Short History of Progress

Book - 2005
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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
Publisher: New York : Carroll & Graf Publishers ; [Berkeley, Calif.] : Distributed by Publishers Group West, 2005.
Edition: 1st Carroll & Graf ed.
ISBN: 9780786715473
0786715472
Branch Call Number: 303.44 Wright 2004
Characteristics: 211 p. ;,21 cm.

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h
hlpearth
Jul 12, 2019

An essential and fascinating read for an understanding of our current predicament amid the existential issues of global warming and living in the antropocene age. Wright takes the reader on a historical tour of past civilizations with astute observations that inform the changes we need to make.

c
casualreader
May 17, 2019

A must read for those who will be braving the next 30+ years here on Earth.

d
deborahjb
Oct 31, 2015

A great book for seeing the patterns, the common denominators and the trajectory of going along in the manner of business as usual. Human conceit and the part it plays is something we can now better understand. Therefore it seems we can heal from this aspect of ego and we could then change course. There is a new narrative of who we are and why we are here and i suspect many people are ready to embrace such a new story. Ok, so now doing the call to all artists of all media and mediums- J Campbell said it was up to us to "tell the new stories" I am in others? Let's do this!

s
stewstealth
Feb 17, 2014

A concise look at the history of some civilizations in human history and speculations on their downfall. The book was fair in it's portrayal of prehistoric societies and did not attempt to glorify any specific society. Regretfully the author's left wing bias was in full force in his conclusions. A very quick read and well worth it.

j
jademoon
Dec 12, 2012

I read this book for a history class. It is an excellent book. It's a comprehensive look at history; a practical, pragmatic look at the problems that have been plaguing civilizations since their beginning. Wright outlines exactly why civilizations collapse, and begins to outline a possible solution. Everyone should read it.

a
AHylaEHoldorf
Apr 19, 2012

A horrifically fun glance at the prehistoric evidence that our current ecological crisis has been a long, long, long time coming. This book should be read a lot more widely.

q22 Feb 02, 2012

Really makes you think that we (our society, our current world order) aren't so unique, ... I was intrigued to learn about the level of sophistication of previous civilizations and curious to read other works by this Ronald Wright.

LMOH Apr 16, 2011

Frightening and fatalistic as mentioned below, but really interesting too from a historical standpoint. Progress isn't always a good thing!

h
haPPY_FUn_baLL
Nov 22, 2010

The fatalistic trajectory of humanity’s future is put into frighteningly clear focus with every page of this thoroughly engrossing work.

It’s one of those books that you simply can’t help but bother the person next to you with the last factoid you just read.

The audiobook is great too!

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