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A Brief History of the Future: A Brave and Controversial Look at the Twenty-First Century Hardcover – March 11, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Arcade Publishing; 1st English-language Ed edition (March 11, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1559708794
  • ISBN-13: 978-1559708791
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,949,782 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Attali (Millennium), cofounder and first president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, offers his predictions for the 21st century in this clunky futurist fantasy. Positing that history flows in a single, stubborn, and very particular direction toward man's progressive liberation, the author projects that course with surprising results. He predicts that the mercantile order that prevails today will exhaust itself within a generation or so and be replaced by a unified and stateless global market—a super-empire controlled by an innovative class of selfish hypernomads. This super-empire will lead to extreme imbalances of wealth and poverty that will cause its collapse by 2050—perhaps accompanied by a round of planetary warfare. Humanity will emerge chastened from the wreckage and erect a utopia of hyperdemocracy led by a class of transhumans —a new breed of altruistic citizens of the world. Attali's utopia relies on illusory historical laws, and his thesis proves more entertaining than plausible. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Acclaimed for his Millennium: Winners and Losers in the Coming World Order (1991), Attali here boldly extends—and revises—his global predictions for the decades ahead. But before mapping out the future, Attali grounds his chronology in patterns he perceives in the past. At the center of these patterns stand impulses that have persistently fostered democratic governance and marketplace economics—in thirteenth-century Bruges, in sixteenth-century Genoa, in nineteenth-century London. In Attali’s analysis (lucidly translated from the original French), Los Angeles emerges as the nexus of capitalist democracy today. However, Attali anticipates an unraveling of American hegemony as transnational corporations perilously sever the ties linking free enterprise to democracy by creating a polycentric empire of commerce that dissolves traditional nation-states. If this process plays out as scripted, nomadic enterprises will enrich a few while immiserating many. World tensions will then be primed for the horrific warfare of armies, mercenary and religious, fighting for resources and dominance. Implacable jihadists have already deployed for such a struggle. Yet Attali remains astonishingly optimistic about long-term prospects for an enlightened world democracy that will safeguard the rights and well-being of all. A readership anxious about the trajectory of world events will find much here to ponder—and debate. --Bryce Christensen

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Customer Reviews

This is not a true nor an accurate statement.
G. Charles Steiner
Sure we want to live longer, and some folk want to work less, but where did these magical figures appear from?
Michael
If you are interested in sociology, world history, or in the future generally, I highly recommend this book.
K G R

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 29 people found the following review helpful By GUSTAVO PRADO RGUEZ on March 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Almost 30 years ago Alvin Toffler published 'The third wave' there he says history was a tide with three waves: an agrarian age, and industrial age, and then a third, 'post-industrial' for which he coined the word 'information age' and he said for example 'through telex and long distance communication people will work, buy, have social relations from home..'. He was absolutely right, even when he can't really name the new technologies, he get quite well which would be the tides and changes, opening wide the eyes in order to catch the actual zeitgeist of his time he then be able to make an honest and logical prediction about the times to come.

At this particular moment we have the brightest of this kind of prediction in the form of the scientist-futurist Ray Kurzweil -'The Singularity is near', 'The age of spiritual machines- where he foreseen not only the next 50 years, but the entire history of human race through technology. To answer this we have Francis Fukuyama, whom through a philosophical 'must' he tries to embrace technology into a humanistic frame.

In this case Jacques Attali, a former adviser to president Miterrand and also President of the European Bank of Development in the 90's, bring another side to the figure: political and sociological forces. He mainly divide human history 'a la Toffler' in three main stages: a theological one, a militaristic one, and then the one we are: an economic driven one. In it, capitalism unbounded has grown from the vitality of 9 main 'hearts' -as he called them- Brugess, Venice, Antwerp, Geneva, Amsterdam, London, Boston, New York and finally Los Angeles.

Each was a pole of development and creativity, becoming the world's motor in their own age.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By G. Charles Steiner TOP 1000 REVIEWER on March 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This book is an outrageous and awful book and on so many levels, it's difficult really to know where to start. Just to say at the top, it may be that more than half of what's wrong with this book has to do with the translator, Jeremy Leggatt.

To begin, the book as a whole is not coherent in construction. The author starts off telling the reader that history has laws and he, with his knowledge, is going to show those laws to you by illustrating them in providing a brief history of capitalism which just happens to be the content of Chapter 2 and consists, in general, of a description of the nine "cores" or major cities that developed a mercantile class, starting off with, after introducing the Greeks and the Mediterranean continent, Bruges, Venice, Antwerp, Genoa and ending up with Amsterdam, Boston, London, New York, and finally Los Angeles.

By the end of Chapter 2, you know nothing about the laws of history nor about any laws in history whatsoever. You only know what the author asserts: there have always been a military class, a religious class, and a mercantile class (as if you needed the author to teach you this!) - and always will be--, though the author's history here serves to show only that the mercantile class was, is, and will be always the very top class.

Secondly, the book then swiftly launches into discussions about the end of the American Empire, planetary war, and then the so-called (by him) planetary democracy for no historical or logical reasoning laid down by any foundation he created, throwing the reader into the future willy-nilly with all sorts of false, wild, outrageous, and quite horrific assertions as if he were himself were engaged in playing a nasty game with the reader.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By jjolla on October 22, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have found books normally have some value, even the bad ones. I have always kept every book I have bought in a bookshelf somewhere at home ... except this one. I felt so embarrassed to have this book in sight that I had to put in in the garbage bin.

When I bought this book I was always expecting controversy. One cannot predict the future, but I was hoping so see some reasoning presented, in the hope of making me think about the issues. Unfortunately, this author just fills his pages with a torrent of sweeping statement about what "WILL" be .. without any discussion about his thinking behind it.

I could have forgiven it if the statements, even without justification, had some merit. Not so! Everything this author states is almost laughable (some I can see happening ... but that's my view formulated from other observations, and certainly not because of Attali's writing).

In reading other reviews of this book, I was captivated by the allure that the author spends a good deal of time looking at our past. Unbelievably, Attali commits the same crime with the past as he does with the future. It is full of sweeping statements about what "DID" happen ... how he could describe with such resolve what happened in pre-historic times is beyond belief. I knew I was reading rubbish early on when he becomes fixated with "cannibalism", focusing on it on four different age spans.

This book represents everything that is bad in writing. The cover also has a blatant lie written on it ... Henry Kissinger states that it is "brilliant". Lies by politicians and a con-job by the author, also a politician. I am now convinced the positive reviews on this site are disingenuous remarks made by the connections, and should be disregarded by reviewers thinking about buying this trash.
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