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Revolutionary Wealth Hardcover – April 25, 2006

4 out of 5 stars 72 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This latest futurist forecast by the Tofflers, the husband-and-wife authors of Future Shock, anxiously surveys hundreds of technological, economic and social developments, including globalization, the rise of China, the decay of Europe, the decline of nuclear families, kids today, satellites, genetic engineering, alternative energy sources, frequent-flyer miles, the Internet and the rise of a new economic group, "prosumers" (those who create goods and services "for [their] own use or satisfaction, rather than for sale or exchange"). Above all, the authors note the ever-accelerating speed and transience of all things such that nanoseconds are now too slow and will be replaced by even zippier "zeptoseconds." The Tofflers try, none too incisively, to order the chaos by invoking the "deep fundamentals" of time, space and the cutting-edge "knowledge economy" that is fast outdistancing obsolete industrial-era government institutions. The Tofflers' mantra of "revolutionary wealth" implies that there's money to be made from the maelstrom, but their specific prognostications—the "explosion" of a nonmonetary "prosumer" economy of family care, hobbies and volunteerism; embedded "pinky chips" combining ID and credit cards; the comeback of barter—seem underwhelming or unlikely. 200,000 first printing(May 2)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Toffler's 1970 book Future Shock was a warning shot across the bow, predicting how our adjustment to the rapid acceleration of technological change in the new "super-industrial society" would cause disorientation and dysfunction in the general population. Although facets of the mass disintegration Toffler predicted have come to pass, much of society has come to embrace technology in ways Toffler couldn't have imagined 36 years ago. In the interim, Toffler has continued his futurist prognostications, most notably with The Third Wave (1984) and Power Shift (1991). With his wife Heidi, Toffler continues his series of scholarly commentary on social and economic change with a look at the revolutionary ways that wealth will be created in the future. The Tofflers' main theme is prosumerism, a trend whereby the division between the creator and consumer of goods and services blurs. Companies are quietly shunting much of their labor costs off onto the consumer: using ATMs or going online instead of seeing a bank teller and using self-checkout at the grocery store. The computer has opened up avenues of wealth creation that shatter the concept of the "job" as a relationship between employer and employee. Toffler's pessimism has certainly tempered in the years since Future Shock; this time the authors take a historical perspective and wax philosophical on this little slice in time we call the twenty-first century. David Siegfried
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; First Edition edition (April 25, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375401741
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375401749
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 1.5 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #853,375 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robert David STEELE Vivas HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on April 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Their first key focus is on TIME and its relation to space, knowledge, and effectiveness as translated into wealth. Innovative businesses are going 100 mph; civil collective groups at 90 mph; the US family at 60 mph, labor unions at 30 mph, government bureaucracies at 25 mph, education at 10 mph, non-governmental organizations including the United Nations at 5 mph, US politics and the participation process at 3 mph, and law enforcement and the law it enforces at 1 mph. This is really quite a helpful informed judgment as to the relative unfitness of all but two of the groups.

The TIME section of the book has some very interesting insights including the fact that anything that requires time, like filling in a form, or that adds time to a process through regulation, is in fact a TIME TAX that is more costly than an old money tax.

The Tofflers note that vice is globalizing faster than virtue. This is very important from a taxation and social goods perspective.

They spend a great deal of time discussing the intangible economy that consists of non-rival knowledge that can be shared and bartered; volunteer time that produces economy value (notably parents who teach their children sanitary habits, how to speak, and discipline or social IQ); and alternative forms of capital--social, moral, whatever. They point out that 60% of the value of the industrial era companies is intangible knowledge, while almost 100% of the new economy is intangible.

This entire book is an Information Operations reference. They discuss global battles to manage our minds in multiple domains--religious, cultural, economic, moral.
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Format: Paperback
Writing about societal trends has gotten tougher since the Tofflers published "Future Shock" nearly four decades ago. Aside from the fact that things are moving faster and getting more complicated, the authors also must compete with the vastly expanded information sources available to readers today. The Tofflers still make good use of their impressive worldwide network of movers and shakers, but the rest of us now have access to countless news outlets on the Internet and on cable/satellite TV, as well as subscriptions to trend-spotting magazines like Wired. So if you routinely follow tech trends, geopolitics, international economics, and related fields, you'll find no big surprises here. On the other hand, if you're not familiar with these areas, this book is a good education. It puts a lot of information together in a very understandable presentation.
Much of the book is devoted to illustrating how the "deep fundamentals" of time, space, and knowledge affect our lifestyles and economy, and how these are largely ignored or misrepresented by economists and decision-makers. The discussion is long, but well presented - except for one thing. This may not bother most readers, but I've never cared for the Tofflers' tinkering with the English language. They like to invent their own terms. Prominent ones in this book are "prosumer" (producer/consumer, a term they've been using since 1980) and "obsoledge" (obsolete knowledge). Also, when they mention "globalization" - already a mouthful at five syllables - they insist on calling it "re-globalization" to provide us with an unnecessary reminder that this phenomenon has occurred before. Some readers will find these word games distracting rather than helpful.
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Format: Hardcover
Tofflers are among the very best writers in the nonfiction world today, on par with David McCulloghs and Ron Chernows. There is a lucidity and simplicity that is uplifting. The book covers several key areas relevant to understanding the future, and in that sense it is a great book, but it is not at all a prediction of the future.

Here a clarification is in order. Tofflers have benefitted enormously from overhyped PR from the press and publishers, and this book is no exception, but as with the other books, this one too fails to predict the future. I do not believe the Tofflers intended to do so, and if they did indeed seek to predict the future here, have failed to do so. In that sense, they may even appear to be misleading their readership for a quick new round of celebrity.

To be clearcut about it, coining phrases like prosumer, as they most famously did before, are reflective of a fertile mind that can fuse words and ideas, but scarcely evidence of analytical or predictive powers. This book too is full of excellent phrases and subtitles, ones worthy of the best copy-editor at the best advertising agency. That has then been taken by the publisher and turned into spin unworthy of the book.

That said, the book stands on its own, and stands tall. It is very accurate, especially the detail with which it grasps China, India, Finance, Poverty, etc. It is very well organized, especially if one is a busy executive. It is very rich with ideas, especially those culled from newspaper cuttings. So if one does not regularly read the papers or periodicals, this book would be very informative.
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