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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 7, Issue 7 (December 1, 1932)

“The Work, Wealth, And Happiness Of Mankind” (H. G. Wells)

“The Work, Wealth, And Happiness Of Mankind” (H. G. Wells)

The book of the year—perhaps the book of the century—is “The Work, Wealth and Happiness of Mankind,” by H. G. Wells (Whitcombe and Tombs Ltd., 13/6). Never before has so comprehensive a summary of the economic life of mankind been attempted as that now accomplished by Mr. Wells in this epoch-making work. It is not only amazingly comprehensive and accurately informative—with those aids to understanding, scientific attention to detail and condensation of authoritative statement which are as pleasing as they are rare—but it is also surprisingly readable in everv one of its eight hundred pages.

The ranging mind which conceived—and brought to triumphant conclusion—the “Outline of History” and the “Science of Life,” turned with relish from these vast preliminary exercises to a work which sets the keynote for all future education—a study of the work, wealth and happiness of mankind.

Before this work was published, a general feeling prevailed that the whole human activity of the world was too diversified to be dealt with except piecemeal—by special works upon sections of it amounting in the aggregate to countless volumes, and by the ceaseless unrolling of innumerable bolts of paper upon which is printed the daily tale of the ephermeral doings of mankind around the world—and that any attempted summary would amount to nothing better than an incomplete and unpalatable index of endless length and unutterable tediousness.

But by the genius and industry of Wells all these difficulties have been overcome. The work certainly bristles with facts, but they are introduced to justify the story and to verify the conclusions of a writer who has exercised a selective faculty with facts such as a great artist must exhibit with design, colour and perspective, to give prominence to what is important and to leave out the immaterial.

One's private index of points worthy of special note made while reading the book contains such references as:—Thought development; petrol; mystery; workshops; machinery versus man; locomotives; uneconomic railway trucks; wireless: press criticised; winter-laying hens; the short-cut; New Zealand land system; importance of phosphorus; instalment-buying; advertising: England's one person in every twenty-five a distributor; the co-operative movement; methods of management; union experiment of the B and O. Railway; workers' thesis; superannuation; prevention of accidents; rationalisation defined; Free Trade commended; inter-relation of private ownership and public control; the lawyer; ineradicable idea of disinterested integrity; total gold won in the last 400 years could be contained in a 38ft. cube; World Board of Control for managed currency; picture of world conditions, 1929–31; remedies; propaganda essential for progress; Jay Gould and railways; unemployment; armament trade; rates of interest; betting; artists; athletic records; value of civil service; railway era made holidays possible for the bulk of the people; Sunday observance; university defects; ideal encyclopedia; world's birth-rate exceeds the death-rate by one every three seconds; and so on.

It is a fine story, worthy of anyone's attention; but as a work of reference, topical reading, sound information, high ideals and humanitarian ideas and planning, the book should be in the hands of all who have anything to do with forming public opinion in our times. It cannot fail to have a helpful influence amongst those whose lot it is to bear a hand in guiding the destinies of the world.

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