THE ACCELERATION OF HISTORY by Gerard Piel

THE ACCELERATION OF HISTORY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A collection of conference papers, commencement addresses, after-dinner speeches and the like by the editor of Scientific American. Piel believes in the reallocation of national resources, the regeneration of communities of scholars, and the revision of American foreign policy. In particular he believes in the '60's dogma that the affluent U.S. needs no widespread material improvements. Most unscientifically, this view is never argued for or buttressed with evidence, however shallow. More defensibly, Piel believes that the solution to so-called overpopulation in the underdeveloped sectors is not simply birth control but economic growth through U.S. aid. Why the Development Decade failed and the U.S. now moves further than ever from providing such aid is never really explored. Piel's most informative efforts indict ""the world's most extravagant and inhumane medical establishment."" However much One sympathizes with Piers conviction that not technology but its misuse by the academic, defense and other establishments is to be blamed for various social problems, Piel generally fails to present a convincing vision of what a right-minded technology could offer nor does he offer any strategy for achieving social change. Instead of developing his criticisms of institutions, he seems to suggest that if only everyone were as clearheaded and goodhearted and Yankee-pure as he, we could tidy up the Republic in no time. This kind of punditry has become commonplace since his last and better book Science in the Cause of Man (1961) although his name still does have drawing power.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1972
Publisher: Knopf