On ‘How the World Really Works: The Science Behind How We Got Here and Where We’re Going’

A book by Vaclac Smil

Bill Gates doesn’t hold back his praise for «How the World Really Works,» calling it «another masterpiece from one of my favorite authors.»

The book is the latest work from Vaclav Smil, a Czech-Canadian professor emeritus of environmental science at the University of Manitoba. In 2017, Gates wrote that he’d read all of Smil’s then-37 published books, on topics ranging from clean energy to manufacturing and agriculture. Gates intended to «wait for new Smil books the way some people wait for the next Star Wars movie,» he wrote.

Today, Gates writes that most of Smil’s books read like textbooks – but «this one is written for a general audience and gives an overview of the main areas of his expertise.» It covers how energy has shaped the history of civilization, from agricultural societies to our modern, industrial age.

Smil «has crunched all of the numbers» to deliver «a brief but thorough education in numeric thinking about many of the fundamental forces that shape human life,» Gates writes.