Home: The Good Ancestor

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Roman Krznaric’s new book, The Good Ancestor: How to Think Long Term in a Short-Term World, will be published by WH Allen (Penguin Random House) on 16 July 2020.

For a sneak preview of some of the ideas in the book, read Roman’s BBC Future article on ‘Why We Need To Reinvent Democracy for the Long Term’.

Download the press release. For all press enquiries please contact Patsy O’Neill: poneill@penguinrandomhouse.co.uk

About The Good Ancestor

How can we be good ancestors?

We live in the age of the tyranny of the now, driven by 24/7 news, the latest tweet, and the buy-now button. With such frenetic short-termism at the root of contemporary crises, the call for long-term thinking grows every day – but what is it, has it ever worked, and can we even do it?

In The Good Ancestor, leading public philosopher Roman Krznaric delves into history and the human mind to show that we can. From the pyramids to the NHS, humankind has always had the innate ability to plan for posterity and take action that will resonate for decades, centuries, even millennia to come. If we want to be good ancestors and be remembered well by the generations who follow us, now is the time to recover and enrich this imaginative skill.

The Good Ancestor reveals six profound ways in which we can all learn to think long, exploring uniquely human talents like ‘cathedral thinking’ that expand our time horizons and sharpen our foresight. Drawing on radical innovations from around the world, Krznaric celebrates the time rebels who are reinventing democracy, culture and economics so that we all have the chance to become good ancestors and create a better tomorrow.

Selected reviews

The Good Ancestor is full of revelations for everyone who cares about the legacy they leave. This is the book our children’s children will thank us for reading.”

The Edge, U2

“It deserves to be widely read – by policy makers, and indeed by all citizens who care about the prospects for their children and grandchildren.”

Professor Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal and author of On The Future

“Beautiful to read, heartfelt and persuasive, The Good Ancestor is one of those landmark books with the power to shift a mindset. One turns the pages feeling a growing compulsion for change. Krznaric’s clarion call for long-term thinking makes him an ancestor all future generations can be proud of.”

Isabella Tree, author of Wilding

“The individualistic philosophies of the last century have generated huge concentrations of wealth – but at the same time put us on the road to social, political and environmental collapse. This clear-sighted and inspiring book suggests a different view of who humans are and what they really value – and a number of ways off that lethal road. It’s a must-read for anyone who’s looking for the good news.”

Brian Eno

“An important and fascinating book that asks whether we’ve got what it takes to become citizens rather than consumers and create an ecological civilisation. The Good Ancestor is a triumph.”

Sir Tim Smit, co-founder of the Eden Project

“From the seventh-generation thinking of Native American tribes to legally empowered guardians of the future and citizens’ assemblies, Krznaric explores a wealth of ways we can become good ancestors. For anyone who is interested in how we can get today’s society to leave the world better than they found it – this is your Guide.”

Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner for Wales

“How timely can a book be? Roman Krznaric fizzes with ideas about how we tackle that cuckoo in the nest, short-term thinking. We need to think today for tomorrow, to give future generations their rightful seat at the table.”

Lord John Bird, founder of The Big Issue

“We desperately need to become long-termist in our way of thinking and acting. There could be few more urgent tasks for any thinking person alive today than encountering this book. Read it: with slow deliberate care…”

Professor Rupert Read, author of This Civilisation is Finished and Extinction Rebellion spokesperson

“Krznaric’s seamless and magical prose delights on every page. Let’s engrave his ‘six ways to think long’ across the gateway to every Parliament in the world.”

Professor Tim Jackson, author of Prosperity Without Growth

“I judge a book’s usefulness by how many pages I’m compelled to dog-ear and underline. This book on the pragmatics of long-term thinking earned 50-plus dog-ears.”

Stewart Brand, creator of the Whole Earth Catalog, co-founder of The Long Now Foundation

“A superb intellectual history and razor-sharp analysis of contemporary politics, this book will change how you think about the world and is a call to action. Read it. You owe it to your children’s children.”

Kevin Watkins, Chief Executive, Save the Children

“Roman Krznaric passionately argues that thinking long term would bring untold benefits and may very well be vital to our survival as a species. Lose yourself in these pages, expand your time horizons, and reimagine your relationship to time, to the future, to activism.”

Rob Hopkins, founder of the Transition Town movement and author of From What Is to What If

“With a dazzling range of sources, zinging with ideas, stories and jaw-dropping graphics, The Good Ancestor is packed with information and insight. Every school should have a copy, with its maps and plans on every classroom wall.”

Michael Wood, historian, broadcaster and author of The Story of China

“In this persuasive book, one of our leading thinkers Roman Krznaric expands his ground-breaking work on empathy to argue that our only hope of survival is to develop deep empathy for future generations across time and space.”

Professor Morten Kringelbach, neuroscientist, Universities of Oxford and Aarhus, Denmark

“A great antidote to the short-term thinking that comes easily to us all. If you want to be a good ancestor, start by reading this book.”

Nigel Warburton, author of A Little History of Philosophy and founder of the Philosophy Bites podcast

“A fascinating and inspiring exploration of one of the great relationship questions of the 21st century: how can we extend our circle of care to future generations?”

John Gray, New York Times bestselling author of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus