"The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves" is about the fact that the world is becoming a better place and why that is happening.
The author gives us lots of interesting facts about how the world is improving. He also explains something about why supposedly apocalyptic problems like global warming are somewhat exaggerated. He often criticises bad environmentalist ideas accurately.
What lets the author down a bit is philosophy. He sometimes praises free markets but doesn't seem to have much good to say about individualism and often refers to "collective brains". His theory about ideas having sex isn't fleshed out at all. It just means people put seemingly different ideas together and that's all there is to it. He doesn't answer any of the following questions. Why do they do this? How do they do this? How does it work? Are there any inherent limitations to it? "The Beginning of Infinity" by David Deutsch is a lot better on philosophical issues, as are the books of Ayn Rand.
LJ Ganser reads the book clearly.
This is worth listening to if you are unfamiliar with facts about human improvement.
I enjoyed this book, although it isn't the best he's written. Its factual, well referenced and interesting. Its also value for money/credit as it is a decent length. I found the narrator a bit annoying and after huffing and puffing about it for a bit I checked who narrated it only to find out it was Bill Bryson himself! Although I normally love it when the author narrates their own book, in this case I have heard his books read better. He does tend to slur his words, get a bit tongue tied in parts and doesn't speak as energetically as I'd hoped for. William Roberts who narrated a Short History of Nearly Everything (another Bryson book) would have been an improvement. Definately worth getting if you're a Bryson fan.