The book discusses everything from tool specialization to the collective mind. Society is getting better and people should be optimistic about the future. According to the book, the development of society is economic fact and there is no reason to expect things to ever get worse. Whether this is the price of fuel or the next challenge, society will innovate to overcome the problem.
According to Newsweek, "Ridley eloquently weaves together economics, archaeology, history, and evolutionary theory to take the argument (that we are living through the most prosperous, peaceful times in history) a step further...His words effortlessly turn complicated economic and scientific concepts into entertaining, digestible nuggets...Unless you're an environmentalists or a WTO protester, there's plenty to be rationally optimistic about here."
The book appears to be worth the purchase and will give a very broad overview of how society developed and the manners by which humans innovated their surroundings. Some of the criticism is around the very broad overview of history which is difficult to pack in this small of a book. However, this may be more by marketing design. Another potential criticism is the lack of strong citations and references that academics would like to see. All-in-all the book meets expectations and the reader won't likely be dissappointed.
You may desire to visit the authors website.
Pages: Approximately 365
Blog Ranking: 3.3/5
Ridley, M. (2010). The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves. UK: HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN 978-0-06-145206-2