I recently read The Rational Optimist by Mathew Ridley for a book dicussion group meeting. The book is wide ranging and covered much of human history. Of course the bulk of the book covers recent centuries and particularly current and near future. A main theme of the book is the role that trade plays in human cultural and intellectual development. Ridley discusses human trade, invention and why there is reason for a optimist view. Ridley tries to be careful not be be pollyannish.
Overall I enjoyed the book and give it a mostly positive recommendation. Why mostly positive? There are a couple of points where he gets some details wrong in the section discussing computers. These are minor points. A bigger problem is that I would have preferred if he had a better grasp and presentation of some of the positions he criticized. However given the scope of the work I can suggest that people read it and while noticing the small glitches look past them to his larger argument. Ridley has some points well worth considering.
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