Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Paperbacks

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Paperbacks

Article excerpt

Byline: WILLIAM LEITH

THE RATAIONAL OPTIMIST by Matt Ridley (4th Estate, [pounds sterling]9.99)

BEFORE I read this book, I was pretty sure the capitalist world was about to implode, but now I have my doubts. Ridley's optimism is infectious. He argues his case brilliantly -- and very, very readably. We have a better standard of living than ever, he says: effectively, an ordinary Westerner is richer than Louis XIV. Our houses are more comfortable, our food is better, and we have much more opportunity to travel. Why are things improving? Because we trade. And when we trade, we innovate. And when we innovate, we trade even more. It's a virtuous circle, says Ridley.

ILL FARES THE LAND by Tony Judt (Penguin, [pounds sterling]9.99)

WE ARE, says Tony Judt, the late historian, in a terrible state.

We in the West are materialistic and shallow; our way of life is not sustainable. We worship money and celebrity; meanwhile, politicians seem to have lost their moral compass. …

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