> Skip to content
  • Published: 7 October 2021
  • ISBN: 9780241993071
  • Imprint: Penguin Audio
  • Format: Audio Download
  • RRP: $32.00

How the World Really Works

A Scientist's Guide to Our Past, Present, and Future




Delightfully contrarian, this is the one book you need to read to understand our modern world

We have never had so much information at our fingertips and yet most of us don't know how the world really works. This book explains seven of the most fundamental realities governing our survival and prosperity. From energy and food production, through our material world and its globalization, to risks, our environment and its future, How the World Really Works offers a much-needed reality check - because before we can tackle problems effectively, we must understand the facts. In this ambitious and thought-provoking book we see, for example, that globalization isn't inevitable and that our societies have been steadily increasing their dependence on fossil fuels, making their complete and rapid elimination unlikely.

Vaclav Smil is neither a pessimist nor an optimist, he is a scientist; he is the world-leading expert on energy and an astonishing polymath. This is his magnum opus and is a continuation of his quest to make facts matter. Drawing on the latest science, including his own fascinating research, and tackling sources of misinformation head on - from Yuval Noah Harari to Noam Chomsky - ultimately Smil answers the most profound question of our age: are we irrevocably doomed or is a brighter utopia ahead?

  • Published: 7 October 2021
  • ISBN: 9780241993071
  • Imprint: Penguin Audio
  • Format: Audio Download
  • RRP: $32.00

Also by Vaclav Smil

See all

Praise for How the World Really Works

A compelling, fascinating, and most important, realistic portrait of the world and where it's going

Steven Pinker, on Numbers Don't Lie

If you are anxious about the future, and infuriated that we aren't doing enough about it, please read this book. It will ground you in an impressively wide span of real science. It offers something even more valuable than a new magic solution: you will understand why there isn't one

Paul Collier, author of The Future of Capitalism

Combining a brutally realistic assessment of the present and a trust in humanity's ability to change its future, this book is a guiding light in our fight against climate change. Very informative and eye-opening in many ways

Ha-Joon Chang, author of 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism

Related titles