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Publisher's Summary

From an examination of official data from such institutions as the United Nations, the World Bank, and the World Health Organization, Cato Institute Senior Fellow Johan Norberg paints a portrait of a better future ahead.

It's on the television, in the papers, and in our minds. Every day we're bludgeoned by news of how bad everything is - financial collapse, unemployment, growing poverty, environmental disasters, disease, hunger, war. But the rarely acknowledged reality is that our progress over the past few decades has been unprecedented. By almost any index you care to identify, things are markedly better now than they have ever been for almost everyone alive.

Examining official data from the United Nations, the World Bank, and the World Health Organization, political commentator Johan Norberg traces just how far we have come in tackling the issues that define our species. While it's true that not every problem has been solved, we do now have a good idea of the solutions, and we know what it will take to see this progress continue. Dramatic, uplifting, and counterintuitive, Progress is a call for optimism in our pessimistic, doom-laden world.

©2016 Johan Norberg (P)2017 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about Progress

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Overcome fear with facts

In today’s fear porn media hellscape this book gives historical perspective and an optimistic view of the progress we have made as humans.

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  • Alexandra Hopkins
  • 2017-09-22

Global Uptrends That May Surprise You

This book describes global socioeconomic up-trends that most people are unaware of. This is important stuff to understand—we need to know what has gone right, not just focus on disasters. A lot has gone right since the Scientific Revolution of the 1500’s and the Enlightenment of the 1700’s: increases in income, literacy, democracy, and women’s rights, and, even remarkably large decreases in crime and violence.

The book gives a lot of the credit for the up-trends to free market capitalism, which, in many cases is quite accurate. But the book, published in 2017, ignores the Great Recession and growing income inequality and even growing poverty in countries like the U.S. It implies that at this time more free market capitalism is just what the doctor ordered. A more objective analysis would point out that given the cracks that are developing in the U.S. economic system, it’s time to re-evaluate our next steps.

The author, Johan Norberg, is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, a Libertarian think tank. His transparent agenda to reduce governmental regulation reduces the book’s objectivity. How can the author imply that free market capitalism has somehow IMPROVED the natural environment? He fails to mention or give credit to the dedicated environmental organizations which battled the corporations to increase regulations and ameliorate some of the worst corporate pollution problems. The book has the taint of propaganda. This is unfortunate, because the important and accurate statistical data presented on the many global up-trends should be better known.


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  • wbiro
  • 2018-06-07

A Refreshing Positivist Perspective on the Future

You have a choice - read doomsayers and doomsdayers, or read futurists and positivists. This book is the latter, exposing the fallacies and erroneous, fashionable dogma of the former.

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  • Jason
  • 2021-07-14

Fantastic

Very similar to the work of Steven Pinker. A data-filled exploration of the last few centuries since the birth of liberalism and the enormous leaps we’ve made as a species across several categories. Directly contrary to the hysterical ravings of those voices in our society whose agendas are predicated on the idea that the world is a dumpster fire. Far from it, Norberg calmly shows us the enormous progress we’ve made globally.

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  • Robert
  • 2021-02-24

Refreshing!

In this day of wokeness, it is so refreshing to hear the facts that support the ultimate benefits of western culture and our imperfect march to the here and now and ultimately towards a better future. Timely.

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  • Syd Molenkamp
  • 2021-01-27

A modern general education in one book!

This book has been the most influential read since my college years 30 years ago.

Not only does it accurately review modern history on a global scale which is so rare (say since the 1990’s), but also combats a pessimistic modern conception of the present. We all know life is better now than ever, yet somehow we believe to be pessimistic about it is to be more adult, less fictional, more “real”, or the more responsible view. Actually, the reverse is true.

Without putting your head in the clouds, review data and long-range history as you discover both the how and the why things are so much better. I’m still in the same place and of the same era I was in before reading the book, but I feel much more appreciative and justified in doing so.

Enjoy!

Syd

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  • CesarRQ
  • 2020-10-17

Outstanding!

Excellent read with an outstanding perspective of progress’ journey. It serves very well to inform and develop a balanced perspective of how far we’ve come. I really enjoyed it and recommend it to all!

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  • BV
  • 2020-08-03

Tour de Force!

What an amazingly powerful presentation of so many themes, regions, and data. A truly mesmerizing and empowering book!

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  • Leslie M.
  • 2020-06-06

Must Read

We, who most get our news from tv, print, or social media, need to move past our myopic vision and broaden our perspective. Things are not as bad as they seem. This book does an excellent job of explaining how far we have come in a short amount of time and why we can be hopeful that the future will be better.

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  • SES
  • 2020-01-20

Shifts your perception!

Whichever is your opinion about economics, health, legal rights, environment, food and other resources, this book for sure, will change your mind. Very useful for understanding history, economics and social evolution of the world.

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  • Pablo
  • 2019-09-10

Interesting hypothesis, unreliable sources

To prove his hypothesis, he uses exaggerated examples and some times myths of the history. He has a North European / protestant centered bias as promoters of progress, against "intolerant" Catholics and East European. All that makes the defense of his hypothesis doubtful. Economic part is strong as numbers are difficult to refute, social progress such as freedom, tolerance, violence, etc. is more questionable, because the author try ro use numbers outside its context.

1 person found this helpful