In This Review

The Long Boom: A Vision for the Coming Age of Prosperity
The Long Boom: A Vision for the Coming Age of Prosperity
By Peter Schwartz, Peter Leyden, and Joel Hyatt
Perseus Books, 1999, 336 pp

A book for anyone seeking an uplifting view of the future. The authors argue that the world is halfway through a "long boom" of 40 years that started in 1980. The second half could be more vigorous than the first, achieving robust global growth rates ranging from a plausible four to an imaginative six percent a year. Billed not as a prediction but as a desirable vision, the book identifies the technological and economic possibilities and warns of the political obstacles that need to be overcome. It argues that innovation is proceeding apace, especially in computation, communication, biotechnology, and even nanotechnology -- controlled processes taking place at the atomic level. Meanwhile, the mobilization of technology, particularly fuel cells, can avoid the environmental costs of more rapid growth. In turn, economic growth can lift millions into an emerging international middle class, creating a new global identity that coexists comfortably with traditional cultures. Writing from the perspective of historians in 2050, the authors project a big picture stripped of the momentary tribulations that dominate daily life and preoccupy contemporary writers.