Magazine August 16, 2010, Issue

The Drive to Create

Solar panels on the roof of SunPower Corporation in Richmond, California, March 18, 2010 (Kim White/Reuters)
The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves, by Matt Ridley (Harper, 448 pp., $26.99)

In a castle in Newcastle, complete with reflecting pool, dappled woods nooked with marble sculptures, and pastures lowing with cattle, Matt Ridley, dean of British science writers and author of four erudite, Darwinian bestsellers, might seem an intellectual grandee ready for an honorable, bland retirement in a North Country Eden, perhaps readying himself for the House of Lords.

But at the end of his lawn, invisible throughout a leisurely walk down its length, is a vast and amazing surprise that offers a vivid portent of this new Ridley book: a tome as unexpected and as ambitious and as contrarian as a

George Gilder — Mr. Gilder is a founder of the Discovery Institute, a venture capitalist, and the author of 15 books, including The Israel Test.

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