A rash of optimistic books is being published in the US, as authors do their best to lift the gloom created by a news agenda dominated by world recession, wars, floods and famine.
The latest to appear is The Secret Peace by Jesse Richards, with its controversial theory on the modern human condition: the world is a nice place and getting better. When the Observer met Richards last week, he remained steadfast in his lonely insistence on a state of optimism when it comes to the human race’s progress. “It is easy to relate to a short-term disaster. It is harder to understand larger, long-term statistics. But they show that we really are better off, and getting better and better,” he said.
Richards’s book is full of ideas and numbers that sustain his thesis. Global life expectancy, for example, is now 68 years and rising. Mobile phones – once the preserve of wealthy yuppies – are now owned by 40% of Africans, connecting an entire continent to the rest of the world. Despite the world’s conflicts, the number of people killed in wars has been dropping for decades.
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