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Heroes of Progress

Heroes of Progress

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“Making an inspiring case for progress at this time of skepticism and historical ingratitude is no easy feat. Yet, by relentlessly outlining the extraordinary ability of individuals to shape our world for the better, Alexander Hammond does just that.”

—Steven Pinker, author of Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress

Over the past two centuries, humanity has experienced unprecedented progress. Extreme poverty has declined, life expectancy has doubled, illiteracy has declined. While we as a species are becoming more prosperous, more educated, healthier, and more peaceful, it is useful to remind ourselves of the underlying cause of this progress: innovation. Human innovation―whether it be new ideas, inventions, or systems―is the primary way people create wealth and escape poverty.

The health and wealth of the modern world rests on the shoulders of dozens of unsung heroes whose work has saved millions, if not billions, of lives. Despite their contribution to improving humanity, few people know the names of these pioneers.

Heroes of Progress takes readers on a journey through the lives of the most important people who have ever lived. From agronomists whose hybrid crops saved billions of lives and intellectuals who changed public policy for the better, to businesspeople whose innovations helped millions rise from poverty, or scientists whose medical breakthroughs eliminated diseases and ended pandemics. If it weren’t for the heroes profiled in this book, we’d all be far poorer, sicker, hungrier, ignorant, and less free―if we were fortunate enough to be alive at all. Considering their impact on humanity, perhaps it’s time to learn their story?