The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves

Author(s): Matt Ridley


Shortlisted for the BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-fiction 2011. Life is on the up. We are wealthier, healthier, happier, kinder, cleaner, more peaceful, more equal and longer-lived than any previous generation. Thanks to the unique human habits of exchange and specialisation, our species has found innovative solutions to every obstacle it has faced so far. In 'The Rational Optimist', acclaimed science writer Matt Ridley comprehensively refutes the doom-mongers of our time, and reaches back into the past to give a rational explanation for why we can - and will - overcome the challenges of the future, such as climate change and the population boom. Bold and controversial, it is a brilliantly confident assertion that the 21st century will be the best for humankind yet.


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Shortlisted for BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction 2011.

'A book breathtaking in its sweep and scope! This inspiring book [is] a glorious defence of our species! A devastating rebuke to humanity's self-haters' Sunday Times

'As a work of bold historical positivity it is to be welcomed. At every point cheerfulness keeps breaking through' The Times

'Ridley's real target is those doomsayers who insist that everything is going from bad to worse and something must be done about it!he shows that such gloom-sayers have always been with us and have always been proved wrong! presents a challenge to those pessimists who are prepared to be rational' Observer

'Exhibits [Ridley's] characteristic virtues: trenchancy, fluency, wit and dazzling command of diverse material' Literary Review

Matt Ridley received his BA and D. Phil at Oxford researching the evolution of behaviour. He has been science editor, Washington correspondent and American editor of The Economist. He is the author of bestselling titles The Red Queen (1993), The Origins of Virtue (1996), Genome (1999) and Nature via Nurture (2003). His books have sold over half a million copies, been translated into 25 languages and been shortlisted for six literary prizes. In 2004 he won the National Academies Book Award from the US National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine for Nature via Nurture. In 2007 Matt won the Davis Prize from the US History of Science Society for Francis Crick: Discoverer of the Genetic Code. He is married to the neuroscientist Professor Anya Hurlbert.

General Fields

  • : 9780007267125
  • : HarperCollins Publishers Australia
  • : Fourth Estate
  • : March 2011
  • : 197mm X 130mm
  • : United Kingdom
  • : April 2011
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Matt Ridley
  • : Paperback
  • : 2011
  • : English
  • : 464
  • : Illustrations