Bright ideas

Coffee, tea, copper, iron, Feminism, Marxism, arable farming, banking and more. Here's a look at 50 ideas that changed humanity.

From capitalism to calculus, music to Marxism, sewerage to simplified Chinese, universities, vaccination, wine and more, The World’s Greatest Idea considers the 50 ideas that have changed humanity.

Written by John Farndon and published by Icon Books, The World’s Greatest Idea is a something of a (very accessible) analysis of social history and how it has impacted the world that we know today.

The obvious ones are there, like the wheel, the steam engine, mass production and printing but it also includes more abstract concepts like romance, hope and honour. While the ideas in the book are purposefully arbitrary, they all reveal something about human ingenuity, highlighting the countless brilliant ideas that, through the ages, solved a problem and changed the world.

In The World’d Greatest Idea, marriage sits at number 50 while the internet, somewhat predictably, takes the first place. Generous footnotes lend a textbook feel to the book, though these could be more concise.

All the ideas are only briefly summed up, highlighting the major events that influenced the idea and how it has thus come to influence our lives today.

Perfect reading for a lazy Sunday afternoon or just before you go to bed for any non-fiction fan of history and events. It misses a few good ideas though, like freely available information that had it’s origins with George Washington and creation of the public library.

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