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Slouching Towards Utopia: An Economic History of the Twentieth Century

Brad de Long

8 Reviews

Rated 0

20th century, Economics, Economic history

AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES AND WALL STREET JOURNAL BESTSELLER

LONGLISTED FOR THE FINANCIAL TIMES BUSINESS BOOK OF THE YEAR

A FINANCIAL TIMES BEST ECONOMICS BOOK OF THE YEAR AND THE ECONOMIST BOOK OF THE YEAR

From one of the world's leading economists, a sweeping new history of the twentieth century - a century that left us vastly richer, yet still profoundly dissatisfied.

Before 1870, most people lived in dire poverty, the benefits of the slow crawl of invention continually offset by a growing population. Then came a great shift: invention sprinted forward, doubling our technological capabilities each generation, and creatively destroying the economy again and again.

Slouching Towards Utopia tells the story of the major economic and technological shifts of the 20th century in a bold and ambitious, grand narrative. In vivid and compelling detail, DeLong charts the unprecedented explosion of material wealth after 1870 which transformed living standards around the world, freeing humanity from centuries of poverty, but paradoxically has left us now with unprecedented inequality, global warming, and widespread dissatisfaction with the status quo.

How did the long twentieth century fail to deliver the utopia our ancestors believed would be the inevitable result of such material wellbeing?

How did humanity end up less on a march to progress than a slouch in the right direction?

And what can we learn from the past in pursuit of a better world?

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Praise for Slouching Towards Utopia: An Economic History of the Twentieth Century

  • Brad DeLong learnedly and grippingly tells the story of how all the economic growth since 1870 has created a global economy that today satisfies no one's ideas of fairness. The long journey toward economic justice and more equal rights and opportunities for all shall and will continue

  • This is a brilliant and important book. It offers an original and penetrating analysis of what its author calls "the long 20th century", the period of unprecedented economic advance that began roughly in 1870 and ended, he asserts, in 2010. Material abundance poured upon humanity. Previous generations would have thought such wealth to be a guarantee of utopia. Yet the age of material progress has ended not in a utopia, but in recrimination and discord. No book has explained the successes and failures of this extraordinary period with comparable insight

  • The period 1870-2010 - what DeLong calls the "long twentieth century" - saw the world break decisively free of its Malthusian chains, with levels of per capita economic growth without any parallel in human history. This wonderfully researched and written book explains the roots of this vertiginous ascent towards utopia, while also exposing the causes of the subsequent flat-lining in our economic fortunes and what action is now needed to ensure the long century is viewed by future historians as the historical rule, not the exception

  • History provides the only data we have for charting a course forward in these turbulent times. I have not seen a more revealing and illuminating book about economics and what it means in a very long time. Slouching Towards Utopia should be required reading for anybody who cares about the future of the global system, and that should be everyone

  • What a joy to finally have Brad DeLong's masterful interpretation of twentieth-century economic history down on paper. Slouching Towards Utopia is engaging, important, and awe-inspiring in its breadth and creativity

  • An intellectually exciting and entertaining gallop along the arc of twentieth century economic history. DeLong puts together the puzzle of the past to tell a story of remarkable achievements as well as setbacks. A great way to understand the forces that have shaped the world today

  • Brad DeLong manages brilliantly to combine detailed analysis of a huge sweep of global history with an accessible and engaging narrative. The result is a book full of well founded and penetrating insights that will appeal to anyone interested in the causes and consequences of modern economic growth

  • Impressed . . . eloquent and clear . . . makes one sad for the utopian possibilities that might have been realized

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