OK I lied. This isn't a book report yet. But I'm a hundred pages into this and its starting to really get good. I am going to try to make periodic updates with impressions and a few quotes. Anyone who has had the misfortune of interacting with me at a very low point should consider giving it a read.
Section 1: "In 1900, the average American spent $76 of every $100 on food, clothing and shelter. Today he spends 37"
-Matt Ridley 2010
I'm really enjoying this. It's a very factual book with LOTS of good, thorough citations, at least the few I have looked into so far. I'll post some links if I can find ones that aren't paywalled. Ridley is also a very evocative writer when it comes to describing the average aches and pains of humans of yesteryear. He does a really good job of making human progress in life expectancy and healthcare very personal, and not at all abstract.
There's also plenty of appeals to the environmental causes as well. Like apparently most cars today, going full highway speed, emit less than half the emission of a car from 1960 sitting at idle. Lake Erie has snakes in it again, which apparently is a good thing. There are more fish in the Thames than tires now.