Author: Matt Ridley
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Summary: This book covered a ton of fascinating topics, but was a bit disjointed and biased by the author’s politics.
Although we’re often taught that history is shaped by the actions of a few critical individuals, Matt Ridley argues that even the biggest changes throughout history have been the inevitable result of incremental change. He briefly argues for the evolutionary development of each of the biggest phenomenon in human history, from philosophy and religion to money, technology, and the internet.
This book and I started out on the wrong foot. Because I loved Ridley’s previous book, Genome, so much, I was hoping for more biology and science from this book. Instead, the first chapter was a history of philosophy that I found somewhat dense. I also thought the concept of incremental change he treated as novel was already obvious in many arenas. To make things worse, the transition between chapters was rough. I had to get into the book over and over again with each new chapter.
At some point, though, my expectations started to match the book better. I started to think of this as a collection of short essays on interesting phenomena in science, technology, politics, and history. This let me start to enjoy it for what it was. Each of the short little chapters did grab my attention and made me want to read all of the books the author mentioned to learn more. I do think it’s worth noting that the author seems to be pushing a certain political agenda, so I’d also want to read other books on the same topics before accepting all of his conclusions. Nevertheless, this was a fascinating book full of the fun facts I love in nonfiction. I think it could be an even better read for someone who went into this looking for a collection of short essays reviewing the history of many important components of modern society.