We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access .
The Rational Optimist Audiobook
The Rational Optimist
Written by: 
Matt Ridley
Narrated by: 
L. J. Ganser
The Rational Optimist Audiobook

The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves

Regular Price:$31.93
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Publisher's Summary

Life is getting better at an accelerating rate. Food availability, income, and life span are up; disease, child mortality, and violence are down all across the globe. Though the world is far from perfect, necessities and luxuries alike are getting cheaper; population growth is slowing; Africa is following Asia out of poverty; the Internet, the mobile phone, and container shipping are enriching people's lives as never before.

The pessimists who dominate public discourse insist that we will soon reach a turning point and things will start to get worse. But they have been saying this for 200 years.

Yet Matt Ridley does more than describe how things are getting better. He explains why. Prosperity comes from everybody working for everybody else. The habit of exchange and specialization, which started more than 100,000 years ago, has created a collective brain that sets human living standards on a rising trend. The mutual dependence, trust, and sharing that result are causes for hope, not despair.

This bold book covers the entire sweep of human history, from the Stone Age to the Internet, from the stagnation of the Ming empire to the invention of the steam engine, from the population explosion to the likely consequences of climate change. It ends with a confident assertion that thanks to the ceaseless capacity of the human race for innovative change, and despite inevitable disasters along the way, the 21st century will see both human prosperity and natural biodiversity enhanced. Acute, refreshing, and revelatory, The Rational Optimist will change your way of thinking about the world for the better.

©2010 Matt Ridley (P)2010 HarperCollins Publishers

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (653 )
5 star
 (365)
4 star
 (185)
3 star
 (69)
2 star
 (22)
1 star
 (12)
Overall
4.3 (467 )
5 star
 (267)
4 star
 (122)
3 star
 (55)
2 star
 (9)
1 star
 (14)
Story
4.4 (459 )
5 star
 (249)
4 star
 (155)
3 star
 (42)
2 star
 (9)
1 star
 (4)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Matthew Ottawa, ON, Canada 05-29-10
    Matthew Ottawa, ON, Canada 05-29-10 Member Since 2015

    Avid audiobook addict!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    295
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    172
    120
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    10
    3
    Overall
    "Excellent book!"

    I found it thoroughly interesting and enjoyable. Unlike many scientists, this author is actually a pretty decent writer.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jake Port Hueneme, California, United States 12-02-14
    Jake Port Hueneme, California, United States 12-02-14 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    71
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    63
    17
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    2
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Good analysis mixed with libertarian rants"

    Ridley makes the very important point that the modern world is fundamentally built on trade and the specialization of labor. This idea can often be overlooked. Many people seem to think that we would be better off doing everything ourselves. Ridley shows that this is deeply misguided. However, I agree with William Easterly's review in that there are numerous rants throughout the book that don't really advance any idea and instead chafe otherwise sympathetic listeners. This book could've been a lot better. I was hoping this book would be a nice complement to Steven Pinker's The Better Angels of Our Nature but it paled in comparison to Pinker's rigor and depth.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alan Bath, Virgin Islands (U.S.) 02-23-13
    Alan Bath, Virgin Islands (U.S.) 02-23-13 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    63
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    12
    6
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    5
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "An antidote to the modern disease of pessimism"

    Beautifully written, accessible and lively account of the underlying factors that have governed human development, the factors that seek to undermine it and why we have cause for optimism about our future.

    This is a wide-ranging book which uses economic, historical and biological evidence to cast doubt on the perpetual doom-mongers that dominate popular discourse.

    A fundamental strength of this book is that it explains the mechanism underpinning growth, innovation and prosperity. Few people have a grasp of this mechanism and, so he argues, they underestimate its ability to improve our well-being and argue for policies which harm or undermine its operation.

    This is not a simplistic ideological book of the Right. In fact, he is critical of some aspects of capitalism and envisions a future world that follows Marx's principle of 'from each according to their ability, to each according to their need'. An enlightening and thought-provoking book.

    The only disappointment was the narration. There were some shockingly bad mis-pronouncations which seemed to suggest that the narrator knew nothing or cared little about what he was reading.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jim Park City, UT, United States 02-18-12
    Jim Park City, UT, United States 02-18-12 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    20
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    25
    3
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "innovation and entrepreneurship lead to prosperity"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    That book brought me to a revelation. He points out how mankind is unique in that we continuously build upon and leverage knowledge of past generations to in effect improve our standard of living. He also points out how great innovations most commonly come not from scientists but from entrepreneurs who look at existing processes or methods and revise, combine, etc to develop new tools and technologies. The revelation is this. Despite our very serious debt problems, I think that the next couple of decades will likely actually bring an unprecedented upswing in opportunity and prosperity (in particular in the US where business friction is actually the lowest). The internet is still quite new. When I started college, uvm still had card catalogs in the library! The effort required to find information was absurd. The access that people now have to information and accumulated wisdom of past generations is phenomenal. It’s an explosion. Information and knowledge are the fuel for innovation. There’s a lot of fuel and there’s a lot of innovation coming.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steve Jacobs New York, NY 06-11-11
    Steve Jacobs New York, NY 06-11-11 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Absolutely fantastic"

    Like another reviewer I've listened to it twice because I love it that much. It's clear, rational, and really thought provoking.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    rudi hoffman 08-26-10 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    16
    3
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    1
    Overall
    "I loved this book!"

    Wow...what a mind! Ridley, darn his hide, has written the book I wanted to write! Observations and data abound about how life is simply BETTER for most sentient creatures than it has ever been on planet earth. While far from naive, Ridley understands that current abiities to TRADE and SPECIALIZE are the keys to prosperity. The sections on environmental policies and the astounding level of wrong headedness in the "green" movement are worth the price of the book. Counterintuitive, reasonable, rational, articulate...Ridley may change your mind about what it means to be alive in the 21st century. And about how "green" basic, but wrong, ideas like eating local, renewable resources, and biofuels are.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 07-15-16 Member Since 2016
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "for the optimist shadowed by the pessimist"

    loved the pace,tone,topics,and most of all being able to confirm my optimism when it only takes a few pessimistic people to shadow the many believers,achievers and hopeful.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DR. IVF 06-10-16
    DR. IVF 06-10-16 Member Since 2016
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    13
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Excellent book."

    Finally someone that reminds us to put things in perspective. Well done. Enjoyed this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Spencer 03-18-16
    Spencer 03-18-16 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    31
    20
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "one of the best books I've ever read"

    a very ambitious book which covers lots of topics over a variety of disciplines and is entertaining and thought-provoking throughout

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    YHK 02-13-16
    YHK 02-13-16 Member Since 2014
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    8
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Rational optimist"

    One of the better books I have read in a while. Highly recommended, but not that I agree with everything he says. Refreshing take on lot of things.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank you.

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.