Rational Optimist

  • by Matt Ridley
  • Narrated by L J Ganser
  • 13 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The Samuel Johnson Prize Shortlist Nominees 2011
Over 10,000 years ago, there were fewer than 10 million people on the planet. Today there are more than six billion, and 99 per cent of whom are better fed, better sheltered, better entertained, and better protected against disease than their Stone Age ancestors.
The availability of almost everything a person could want or need has been going erratically upwards for 10,000 years and has rapidly accelerated over the last 200 years: calories; vitamins; clean water; machines; privacy; the means to travel faster than we can run, and the ability to communicate over longer distances than we can shout. Yet, bizarrely, however much things improve from the way they were before, people still cling to the belief that the future will be nothing but disastrous.
In this original, optimistic book, Matt Ridley puts forward his surprisingly simple answer to how humans progress, arguing that we progress when we trade and we only really trade productively when we trust each other.
The Rational Optimist will do for economics what Genome did for genomics and will show that the answer to our problems, imagined or real, is to keep on doing what we've been doing for 10,000 years – to keep on changing.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Breathtakingly Hypocritical

This book was highly recommended by a friend. Despite a persuasive argument, Ridley's book cannot be considered in the absence of context, for Ridley chaired the English bank Northern Rock, a bank which, due to its high-risk lending practices, went to the wall during the GFC with red ink to the tune of twenty-some billion UK pounds, and was subsequently nationalised to prevent a 'run' on the banks and the collapse of the British financial system. Thus, while I'm a conservative who is naturally sceptical of the size and role of government in virtually every economy, I find it extremely ironical that Ridley, at the outset, states that he cannot refer to the collapse of Northern Rock 'for legal reasons' yet it is, in the style of other libertarians such as Ayn Rand, the free market which serves as the bedrock for virtually every subsequent argument. Ridley should have withdrawn the book and rewritten it in the very context of his own aristocratic background (he is now a Viscount!) and on the basis of the events which occurred at the bank of which he was Chair. In addition, I would have thought a UK narrator more preferable to a US narrator given Ridley's own background. With reality incorporated into the narrative rather than rationality, Ridley may have been onto something.
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- David


Good story and narration. challenges one to be optimistic in thinking. nice detailing of history given. loved it.
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- Shridhar

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-27-2010
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Limited