About one year ago, I published my first book “From Poverty to Progress: Understanding Humanity’s Greatest Achievement” The vast majority of summaries on this website come from my original research for this book.
As a self-published author it is hard to get immediate attention for your book when it is initially published. Far too many people assume that a book is only respectable if it comes from a large publisher. So over the past year, I have slowly gotten noted thinkers to read my book and offer comments. It was, quite frankly, a real struggle through much of 2021.
Then in December of 2021, the dam finally broke and a huge number of respected thinkers have written great recommendations for my book, including Steven Pinker, Tyler Cowen, Johan Norberg, Joel Mokyr and many other lesser-known authors who have summaries on this site. More keep pouring in every month!
Here are just some of the recommendations for my book:
“Progress is not a matter of optimism; it’s an empirical fact of history, obscured by seeing the world through headlines rather than data. And it is not a natural process but the effect of distinctive technological and political circumstances. Magoon has made a valuable contribution in adding to our understanding of the facts and causes of the most important development in human history.”
Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and the author of “The Better Angels of Our Nature” and “Enlightenment Now.”
“The concept of progress is perhaps the most important human idea. Michael Magoon’s new book gives an excellent account of the origins of progress, its root causes, as well policies for how we can keep it going. It will change your thinking about progress and its relevance to your life.”
Tyler Cowen, author of “Stubborn Attachments” and “The Great Stagnation”;
Named by The Economist magazine in 2011 as one of the top 36 most influential economists of the decade.
“In his book, Michael Magoon documents and explains the amazing progress of our time. Magoon’s concept of the “Five Keys to Progress” gives us a powerful new perspective on the historical causes of progress, how wealthy nations can keep it going and how developing nations can enjoy greater progress… A good read!”
Johan Norberg, author of “Progress” and “Open: The Story of Human Progress”
The Economist magazine’s Book of the Year, 2021
“In an Age of Despondency, this book’s deep faith in progress is like a breath of fresh and hopeful air. May Magoon be right.”
Joel Mokyr, author of “A Culture of Growth: The Origins of the Modern Economy” and “The Enlightened Economy: An Economic History of Britain 1700-1850”
“Michael Magoon’s “From Poverty to Progress”is the kind of book that is increasingly rare in this age of academic hyper-specialization: a study of material progress from a perspective that is at once global, historical, and evolutionary. Bursting with a wealth of hard data and cogently argued, Magoon shows how modern technology has lifted humanity out of poverty, conquered famine, and brought longer and happier lives to hundreds of millions.
A significant contribution to the understanding of modern society.”
Richard L. Currier, author of “Unbound: How Eight Technologies Made Us Human…”
“At a time when many people believe the world is going to hell, Michael Magoon shatters conventional wisdom. Using historical and empirical information he shows that things are actually getting better across the globe.
Magoon introduces a provocative new theory explaining why previous generations were trapped in a grinding poverty and how humanity created wide-spread progress for the masses. He shows why those interested in progress and technological innovation need to replace their narrow focus on today’s bleeding-edge technology with a broader historical perspective.
This book offers a tantalizing bit of optimism at a time when everyone needs some hope.”
Darrell West, fmr Professor Brown University – VP Center for Technology Innovation
“This book introduces a promising new thinker in the field of history and its effects on today’s world. His emphasis on the power of diversity to drive innovation is an important addition to our understanding of why Europe rose to prominence and how it affected the rest of the world. Magoon not only shows why progress took place in Europe; he shows why it is possible in any society that lays the right foundations.”
Jack A. Goldstone, Professor George Mason University and author of “Why Europe?: the Rise of the West in World History 1500-1850”
“This book offers a radical challenge to the current––and very pessimistic––academic interpretation of history. It stresses the importance of technology, cooperation, and competition and the primacy of Western civilization in raising the living standards of the majority of humankind. All readers, whether they agree or not, will find it a refreshingly new perspective on history.”
Daniel R. Headrick, author of “Technology: A World History”
“The world is a complicated place. But a handful of basic principles help make sense of it and reveal the road to progress. In this book Magoon does much to identify the wellsprings of material progress. I recommend it — especially to those who have begun to doubt the possibility of progress.”
Jan de Vries, Professor Emeritus at UC Berkeley and author of “First Modern Economy”
“Magoon’s call for hope in the world should make us all appreciate what we have inherited from our shared human past. With that hope, we could share an even more promising future.”
Peter Bellwood, Professor Emeritus Australian National University and author of “First Farmers” and “First Migrants”
“We tend to forget that technological change has vastly improved our standards of living over the course of history and dwell upon the losing end of innovation. Against this background, Magoon’s rich narrative offers a compelling reminder of how societies have prospered by elevating the successful to models worthy of emulation.
Stelios Michalopoulos, Professor Brown University and author of “Ethnic Inequality”
“A fascinating addition to our understanding of the connection between long-term history and economic development. Michael Magoon forcefully reminds us of the progress made by humankind. Backed by a wealth of facts and data, he delves deep into the ingredients that enabled societies to achieve this.
Areendam Chanda, Professor LSU and author of “Early Starts, Reversals and Catchup in the Process of Economic Development.”
If you enjoy the summaries on this site, my guess to that you will enjoy reading my book From Poverty to Progress: How Humans Invented Progress, and How We Can Keep It Going.
I am reading your book now. I have been studying progress for 20 years and find the book, your blog and your summaries to be possibly the best resource on the topic available today. Thanks!