History for Tomorrow

History for Tomorrow: Inspiration from the Past for the Future of Humanity is published by Ebury (Penguin Random House). Order the hardback, ebook or audio book (narrated by the author!) from:

Editions also coming soon in Dutch, Norwegian, Korean, German, Spanish, Thai, Portuguese, Italian, Croatian, Japanese and other languages.


About the book

As humanity faces a future of uncertainty, we would be wise to look backwards as we seek to chart a way forwards.

What can the history of slave revolts teach us about the power of rebellion to tackle the climate crisis? How might understanding the origins of capitalism spark ideas for bringing AI under control? What could we learn from eighteenth century Japan for creating regenerative economies today, or from the coffee houses of Georgian London for taming social media?

Leading social philosopher Roman Krznaric unearths fascinating insights and inspiration from the last 1000 years of world history that could help us confront the most urgent challenges of the twenty-first century. From bridging the inequality gap and reducing the risks of genetic engineering, to reviving our faith in democracy and avoiding ecological collapse, History for Tomorrow shows that history is not simply a means of understanding the past but a way of reimagining our relationship with the future. Krznaric reveals how, time and again, societies have risen up, often against the odds, to tackle challenges and overcome crises. History offers a vision of radical hope that could turn out to be our most vital tool for surviving and thriving in the turbulent decades ahead.

Selected Reviews

“Enlightening and thrilling. History for Tomorrow tells us who we are and who we could be.”

George Monbiot

“‘Brimming with ideas and insights, this is a welcome, important and clear-eyed view of how understanding the past can help us better prepare for the future.”

Peter Frankopan, author of The Silk Roads and The Earth Transformed

“A fascinating account of historical moments that could serve as beacons of hope for our own times.”

Amitav Ghosh, author of The Nutmeg’s Curse

“We need lessons from history now more than ever. History for Tomorrow could not be timelier or more welcome. Krznaric is fighting the good fight.”

The Guardian

“An amazing feat of synthesis and imagination, weaving together many different strands of world history to make a pattern that can guide us in the present toward a vibrant future. Krznaric’s book is immensely suggestive of positive actions that have track records; they’ve worked before, and in new formulations they can work again. Wise and practical inspiration.”

Kim Stanley Robinson, author of The Ministry for the Future

“The disastrous mess we find ourselves is, in part, maintained by a spell that has been cast over us. This spell creates impotency and despair by telling us that there is no other way to be here together on our home planet, that our very nature is bad and destructive, that we are bound to fail. Roman Krznaric comes with the sorcerer’s ability to break spells and open our minds and souls to visions of alternatives; not as pies in the sky but as lived realities of our kin around the world who we find ourselves separated from and from our own past that we have somehow been made to forget. His book helps us to see with new eyes and to believe in ourselves as a species. These are foundational needs if we are to meet our predicament with a deep belief that change really is possible.”

Gail Bradbrook, Co-Founder, Extinction Rebellion

“Krznaric is an intellectual syncretist whose bestselling books have been all directed towards creating change through ideas. History for Tomorrow isn’t a book that pushes a grand theory of history or even human nature. Neither does it have all the answers. But what sets it apart is that it knows where to look. A wonderful grab-bag of inspiring ideas and stories. “

Byline Times

“Essential thinking about the big issues facing the world today.”

Brian Eno

“Roman Krznaric turns to the past not for its own sake, but for ours. In his deft hands, case studies suggest how we can do better – learn and be capable – as we face the largest challenges of the present.”

Dr Sarah Knott, Sally Reahard Professor of History, Indiana University and author of Mother: An Unconventional History

History for Tomorrow simply fizzes with ideas: it reads like a series of dazzling talks, or better, conversations over the kitchen table, drawing inspiration – and warnings – from history at this critical moment in the human story. Roman Krznaric is thinker, synthesiser, agent provocateur, joueur d’esprit, teasing out links between, say, Georgian coffee houses and today’s social media, the Jamaican Slavery wars and Extinction Rebellion, or World War Two rationing and sustainable economics in Tokugawa Japan. It is a paean to the ideals of humane civilisation and at the same time a calm but urgent rebuke to our culture of limitless desire. Compassionate, insightful and hopeful, these are above all great stories, with the widest range in time and place, revealing with startling clarity what human beings have done, and can do, when they organise, cooperate and help each other. As our world burns, as the rich devour the earth, and as our wealth is still spent on war, it is time to remind ourselves that it doesn’t have to be like that. History for Tomorrow will make you think about history in a different way.”

Michael Wood, historian, broadcaster and Professor of Public History, University of Manchester

“Roman Krznaric has achieved a tour de force with a book that draws unexpected links between historical events from all over the world. This is a uniquely hopeful book, which never romanticizes the past but inspires us to imagine alternative solutions to address the most urgent issues of our time.”

Dr Hélène Neveu Kringelbach, Associate Professor of African Anthropology, University College London

“History for Tomorrow’s sheer erudition is impressive. What will make this book live on is its radical rejection of our separateness, our alienation from nature and each other, and the historically justified case that alternative worlds are possible as they have been in the past.”

Sydney Morning Herald

“Fascinating and thought-provoking. History for Tomorrow is a superb example of the capacity of the humanities and social sciences to reflect on the lessons of the past, without being despairing or simplistic. His expansive grasp of human history enables him to stud his book with engrossing examples. The breadth of his research is startling.”

Professor Peter McPhee, The Conversation

Articles and Media

BBC Culture: What the Japanese Edo period can teach us about today

NPR All Things Considered: Interview on how history teaches that disruptive movements work

Aeon Magazine: Essay on the Disruption Nexus, a model for rapid, transformative change

Radio National Australia – Life Matters: Interview on the inspiration that history offers for today’s world.

New Stateman: Q&A

The Philosopher Magazine: Discussion with philosopher Alexis Papazoglou on the power of the historical imagination to help transform societies, and the reasons for having hope in history