Each time history repeats itself, so it’s said, the price goes up. The twentieth century was a time of runaway growth in human population, consumption, and technology, placing a colossal load on all natural systems, especially earth, air, and water — the very elements of life. The most urgent questions of the twenty-first century are: Where will this growth lead? Can it be consolidated or sustained? And what kind of world is our present bequeathing to our future?
In his #1 national bestseller A Short History of Progress Ronald Wright argues that our modern predicament is as old as civilization, 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 around the world since the Stone Age can we recognize the experiment’s inherent dangers, and, with luck and wisdom, shape its outcome.
RONALD WRIGHT is an award-winning historian, essayist, and the author of ten books of fiction and nonfiction published in sixteen languages and more than forty countries. His 2004 CBC Massey Lectures, A Short History of Progress, was a #1 national bestseller, won the Libris Award for Nonfiction Book of the Year, and was the basis for the Martin Scorsese–produced documentary Surviving Progress. His other bestselling nonfiction books include the BC Book Prize–winning history What Is America?; Stolen Continents, which won the Gordon Montador Award; and Among the Maya. His first novel, A Scientific Romance, won the 1997 David Higham Prize for Fiction and was a Globe and Mail, Sunday Times, and New York Times book of the year. Wright contributes criticism to the Times Literary Supplement, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other publications. He lives in British Columbia.
PRAISE FOR RONALD WRIGHT AND A SHORT HISTORY OF PROGRESS
“I don’t care if you have never read and will never read any kind of book at all, but you must read this one.” — Globe and Mail
“A compelling work of distilled wisdom . . . Wright is a pungent phrase-maker and a penetrating thinker. His learning is historical, anthropological and cross-cultural.” — Times Literary Supplement
“Provocative . . . Already a bestseller in Canada, Wright is now making his biggest mark since his debut novel (A Scientific Romance, 1997) attracted wide attention… illuminating and disturbing, and expansively documented.” — Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW
“In this short, superb essay, Wright succeeds at impressing on his readers how fragile the remarkable experiment we call civilisation really is.” — The Liberal“Wright sifts the findings of archaeology and anthropology with thoughtful grace to build a potent argument.” — Guardian
“Impressive . . . for the evidence Wright assembles from his authoritative grasp of history, and for the skill and clarity with which he imparts information. He makes history, ecology, anthropology, and political science easy to read.” — Associated Press
“Ronald Wright, one of this country’s intellectual treasures . . . takes his readers on a sweeping educational tour of history and every continent’s previous civilization . . . This excellent book should be required reading at the White House.” — Quill & Quire
“An elegant and learned discussion of what the rise and fall of past civilizations predict about our own: nothing good.” — Maclean’s
“Rarely have I read a book that is so gripping, so immediate and so important to our times. Jared Diamond will be jealous!” — ABC (Australia)
“A beautiful tract on the plight of humanity and how we always tend to spoil our nest and why we need to learn from that.” —Sydney Sun Herald
“[Ronald Wright] is an historical philosopher with a profound understanding of other cultures.” — Jan Morris