The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves

Front Cover
Harper Collins, Jun 7, 2011 - Business & Economics - 480 pages
17 Reviews

For two hundred years the pessimists have dominated public discourse, insisting that things will soon be getting much worse. But in fact, life is getting better—and at an accelerating rate. Food availability, income, and life span are up; disease, child mortality, and violence are down all across the globe. Africa is following Asia out of poverty; the Internet, the mobile phone, and container shipping are enriching people's lives as never before.

In his bold and bracing exploration into how human culture evolves positively through exchange and specialization, bestselling author Matt Ridley does more than describe how things are getting better. He explains why. An astute, refreshing, and revelatory work that covers the entire sweep of human history—from the Stone Age to the Internet—The Rational Optimist will change your way of thinking about the world for the better.


What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star

Review: The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves

User Review  - Steve - Goodreads

Another Goodreads member, Helen Grant, wrote a scathing review of The Rational Optimist: I found it particularly offensive and hypocritical that she took ... Read full review

Review: The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves

User Review  - Keith - Goodreads

Ridley gives a good description of how the barter and exchange of goods and ideas have helped make improvements in human lives. I think, though, he overstates his case, especially in his vilification ... Read full review


when ideas have sex
trade after 5000 years ago
population after 1200
energy after 1700
pessimism after 1900
rational optimism about 2100

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2011)

Matt Ridley is the author of several award-winning books, including Genome, The Agile Gene, and The Red Queen, which have sold more than 800,000 copies in twenty-seven languages worldwide. He lives in England.

Bibliographic information