Palaeolithic hunters who learnt how to kill two mammoths instead of one had made progress. Those who learnt how to kill 200 by driving a whole herd over a cliff had made too much.
Many of the great ruins that grace the deserts and jungles of the earth are monuments to progress traps, the headstones of civilisations which fell victim to their own success. The twentieth-century's runaway growth has placed a murderous burden on the planet.
A Short History of Progress argues that this modern predicament is as old as civilisation. Only by understanding the patterns of progress and disaster that humanity has repeated since the Stone Age can we recognise the inherent dangers, and, with luck, and wisdom, shape its outcome.
RONALD WRIGHT is a prize-winning novelist, historian, and essayist, published in ten languages. His nonfiction includes the number-one bestseller Stolen Continents, winner of the Gordon Montador Award and chosen as a book of the year by the Independent and the Sunday Times. His first novel, A Scientific Romance, won the 1997 David Higham Prize for Fiction and was chosen a book of the year by the Globe and Mail, the Sunday Times, and the New York Times.