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Slouching Towards Utopia

Paperback / ISBN-13: 9781399803434

Price: £14.99

ON SALE: 6th July 2023

Genre: Economics, Finance, Business & Management

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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?


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
Thomas Piketty, #1 New York Times bestselling author of 'Capital in the Twenty-First Century'
Slouching Towards Utopia is an impressive achievement, written with wit and style and a formidable command of detail
The Economist
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
Lawrence H. Summers, Harvard University
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
Christina Romer, University of California, Berkeley
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
Minouche Shafik, Director, London School of Economics and Political Science
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
Andrew G. Haldane, Chief Executive of the RSA and former Chief Economist at the Bank of England
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
Robert C Allen, Distinguished Professor of Economic History at New York University, Abu Dhabi, and a Senior Research Fellow of Nuffield College, Oxford
Impressed . . . eloquent and clear . . . makes one sad for the utopian possibilities that might have been realized
Emanuel Derman, author of 'My Life as a Quant' and 'The Volatility Smile'
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
Martin Wolf
Like many people, I've been eagerly anticipating Brad Delong's Slouching Towards Utopia: An Economic History of the 20th Century, and it doesn't disappoint . . . it (is) an unmissable book . . . The strength of the book - as well as its immense scope and depth . . . is that it's a work of political economy, braiding the different strands of ideas, Hayek, Polanyi and Keynes . . . In addition, there are plenty of pleasing asides and details. Definitely one to read.
Diane Coyle
A magisterial history . . . asks the right questions and teaches us a lot of crucial history along the way
Paul Krugman
A masterfully sweeping account . . . a joy to read. Few economic historians have as fluent a grasp of political or military history or, more important, write as lucidly and with such great flair about these subjects
Liaquat Ahamed, Foreign Affairs
I've been waiting for Brad [DeLong]'s big economic history opus for a long time now
Ezra Klein
DeLong explores the slice of history he has chosen - the "long twentieth century" from 1870 to 2010 - in depth, and he often writes with verve combined with thought-provoking detail
Daily Telegraph
Accessible and illuminating explanations of key historical shifts and the socio-economic forces driving them . . . A sprawling but carefully argued, edifying account of modern economic history and its impact on global well-being
Kirkus Reviews
Conveys a wealth of information in elegant, accessible prose, combining grand, epochal perspectives with fascinating discursions on everything from alternating-current electricity to the gender wage gap. The result is a cogent interpretation of economic modernity that illuminates both its nigh-miraculous achievements and its seething discontents
Publishers Weekly, starred review
This volume, partly an economic history but mostly a thorough record of the global economy's connection with politics, is destined to become a classic in its category
Library Journal
One of the most ambitious and admirable economic history books of the year . . . DeLong is a guide whose conclusions I cannot fault
A fantastic read . . . you don't have to be an economist or historian to enjoy this book or reach for the smelling salts to revive you from boredom
Patrick Luciani, The Hub
Deeply engaging . . . a work of strikingly expansive breadth and scope
Benjamin M. Friedman, Harvard Magazine
DeLong written the most entertaining End Times narrative since The Late Great Planet Earth
Steve Donoghue, Open Letters Review
Worries that the future will be worse than the present are an excellent reason to read economic histories such as Bradford DeLong's new book, Slouching Towards Utopia
Joshua Kim, Inside Higher Ed
A masterpiece
Zachary D. Carter, Dissent
A magisterial new economic history
Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times
If you want to follow the conversation right now on global economic history, you should check out Brad DeLong's Slouching Towards Utopia
Adam Tooze, on The Ezra Klein Show