David Mytton

Book Review (4/5) – Sustainability: A History (Jeremy L. Caradonna)

Published (updated: ) in Book Reviews.

Originally published on Goodreads.

I enjoyed the actual “history” chapters which go back to the first considerations of what would become “sustainability” from the 1700s. 

I particularly liked the review of the key economics theorists and philosophers from the 18th and 19th centuries because they are often associated with the focus on “growth” of modern capitalism, which isn’t necessarily true. The history of other societies and how countries like Japan were initially developed around the idea of sustainability was also interesting. This provides a good foundation to understand the basis for the situation in modern times.

The later chapters try to collate the current status of environmentalism, sustainability, economics and technology. The summary is fine but it is only correct as of 2014 when the book was published, which is a problem with such a fast moving industry. There is insufficient depth on all these topics because this is not supposed to be a book about them. This means the coverage feels unsatisfactory.

If you just want a history then chapters 1-3 are enough (and what my rating is based on). The rest is interesting commentary and opinion but if you’re reading this book then you probably won’t find anything new that you haven’t read elsewhere.