J. Bradford DeLongSep 5, 2022
Slouching Towards Utopia
An Economic History of the Twentieth Century
Basic Books 2020
From one of the world's leading economists, a grand narrative of the century that made us richer than ever, yet left us unsatisfied Before 1870, humanity lived in dire poverty, with a slow crawl of invention offset by a growing population. Then came a great shift: invention sprinted forward, doubling our technological capabilities each generation and utterly transforming the economy again and again. Our ancestors would have presumed we would have used such powers to build utopia. But it was not so. When 1870-2010 ended, the world instead saw global warming; economic depression, uncertainty, and inequality; and broad rejection of the status quo.
Brad DeLong's Slouching Towards Utopia: An Economic History of the Twentieth Century (Basic Books, 2022) tells the story of how this unprecedented explosion of material wealth occurred, how it transformed the globe--and why it failed to deliver us to utopia. Of remarkable breadth and ambition, it uncovers the last century to have been less a march of progress than a slouch in the right direction.
Javier Mejia is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Political Science Department at Stanford University.