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The Long Boom

A book by Peter Schwartz

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Are We Equal to the Challenge?

  • Feb 12, 2000
Those who have already read The Art of the Long View no doubt share my high regard for the vision, precision, and eloquence which Peter Schwartz brings to subjects of special interest to him. They are once again in evidence (indeed in abundance) in this book which he co-authored with Peter Leyden and Joel Hyatt. Theirs is a shared vision of "the coming age of prosperity." What exactly does that mean? The answer is suggested in the Introduction: "The Long Boom is a positive meme about a better future. A meme is a contagious idea that can quickly spread around the world and influence what people think and do....The idea soon takes on a life of its own, out of anybody's control, flitting from computer host to computer host in an exponential expansion that spreads around the world....[The book] starts with the recognition that the world is faced with a historic opportunity. What we call the Long Boom -- the years from 1980 to 2020 --is a period of global transformation. No other age ever possessed the tools or the knowledge to do what we can do today." From the authors' perspective, what they call the Long Boom is half in the past and half in the future. "We refer to the Long Boom in both senses throughout the book."

There are four Parts followed by an Afterword.

Part I Track the Inevitable (ie major developments in technology, economics and politics)

Part II The Politics of the Long Boom (ie how to overcome "looming political problems")

Part III The Engines of the Twenty-First Century (ie technologies which can help to preserve the environment)

Part IV Birth of a Global Civilization (ie creation of a new middle class amidst fundamental global changes)

In the forward-thinking Afterword, the authors reaffirm their faith in the almost unlimited potentialities of the Long Boom IF the human race can somehow avoid committing planetary suicide. They are emphatically NOT misty-eyed visionaries; on the contrary, they seem most comfortable when addressing harsh realities such as territorial "politics" which, if permitted, can result in the Long Whimper. Among their objectives is to provide "a starting point for an ongoing global conversation about how everyone can take advantage of the great potential of our era and create a better world." The observations shared are anchored in the real-world; the suggestions offered are practical and do-able. If for whatever reasons the human race is unwilling and/or unable to fulfill the promise of the Long Boom, who to blame? According to Pogo, "We have met the enemy and he is us." Schwartz, Leyden & Hyatt would perhaps reply, "OK but so what? There's still time. There's still hope. We have everything we need. Let's work together on a global basis. It won't be easy but we can do it. We really can."

How? This brilliant book answers that question. Better yet, it explains why.

Those whose minds and hearts are nourished by this book should also check out Natural Capitalism (Hawken, Lovins & Lovins) and Holding On to Reality (Borgmann) which address many of the same issues but from somewhat different perspectives.

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About the reviewer
Robert Morris ()
Ranked #169
Professionally, I am an independent management consultant who specializes in accelerated executive development and breakthrough high-impact organizational performance. I also review mostly business books … more
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About this book


Thanks to various technological, fiscal, and political revolutions that have reshaped our world over the past two decades, some observers believe, the new millennium will offer opportunities for economic expansion that rival any previously recorded.The Long Boomis a fascinating attempt to pin down this potential upsurge by combining a shrewd examination of where we've been headed for the last 20 years with a plausible forecast of where--with a bit of good fortune and tenacity--we might be going during the next 20. Moreover, its unique mixture of germane facts and figures with supportable projections and original storytelling techniques (most notably a letter to friends sent once a decade by a fictional observer born in 1960) make it as readable as it is provocative.

Originating as an article in Wired magazine, the optimistic scenario envisioned by authors Peter Schwartz (chairman of a combination think tank and consulting firm), Peter Leyden (a technology, economics, and political journalist), and Joel Hyatt (a Stanford entrepreneurship professor who cofounded the legal-services firm bearing his name) integrates existing and potential technological advancements, financial developments, political upheavals, and social movements. Among its predictions are a formulation of a "glass pipeline" that seamlessly tracks manufacturing and production processes, creation of a volunteer Global Corps to aid developing nations, the dawning of a true Space Age, and the birth of a unified ...

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ISBN-10: 0738200743
ISBN-13: 978-0738200743
Author: Peter Schwartz
Publisher: Basic Books

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