William Collins has pre-empted a “radical and timely” look at progress by writer and geographer Samuel Miller McDonald.
Grace Pengelly, assistant commissioning editor, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights to Progress: Five Myths that Shaped Our Past and Put Our Future at Risk from Julia Eagleton at Janklow & Nesbit. US rights were sold to Publisher George Witte at St Martin’s Press at auction. UK publication is set for spring 2022.
The book argues the idea of progress is to blame for the environmental catastrophe that now consumes the earth. The synopsis says: "We live in a paradoxical world, where we continue to subscribe to a set of myths; about dominion, growth and expansion, that are at the root of our civilisation's demise. Drawing on interdisciplinary research across philosophy, anthropology and geography; Miller McDonald presents an alternative history of progress which is inextricably linked to the collapse of our environment. If we are to survive, we will need to dismantle, re-examine and redefine our understanding of progress for a new age. Drawing comparisons to Jared Diamond and Stephen Pinker, Progress offers an alternative vision of our political future, grounded in ecological understanding of our past.”
The author studied energy transition politics at Yale’s School of the Environment and is currently a doctoral researcher at the School of Geography & the Environment at Oxford. He is a regular contributor to Current Affairs, New Republic and the Guardian. Progress is his first book.
He said: “The modern story of progress is a very dangerous fiction. This tall tale has spread across the globe, shaping nearly everyone’s sense of what progress means, what it should mean, and where our society ought to go. My first book offers a radical new perspective on the five myths on which the modern world is built, illuminating its blood-strewn lineage and suggesting an urgent alternative. If humanity is to have any chance of a future, we must fundamentally change the way we think about some of our most basic political ideas.”
Pengelly added: “Progress will be a landmark book that interrogates the assumptions that lie at the heart of all modern democracies. Sam is a highly original and provocative thinker, who has been working at the forefront of political and environmental research for over a decade. This extraordinary book will provide a damning critique of the political status quo, rooted in a fundamental re-examination of our past.”
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