I am, as you read these very words, working away at a new book. It's going to be called Material World and I am quite honestly fizzing with excitement about it.
The elevator pitch: this is the story of the modern world (and a bit of our history and some glimpses into the future) told through the eyes of the materials we couldn't do without. It's a bit of economics, a bit of geology, a bit of politics, material science and a lot of on-the-ground reporting from all over the world.
When I began writing it back in 2020 it felt like an important and interesting topic. I'd always felt we took for granted the nuts and bolts of the world - everything from the electrical networks that keep our homes and businesses powered to the steel that supports our buildings. I figured a book about how all this stuff worked and why it mattered might be a useful contribution to public debate.
But as time has gone on the subject matter has taken on a new dimension. Our reliance on raw materials and energy for our everyday lives has become front page news, following the Covid-19 pandemic, Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the race for the minerals we will need for batteries, solar panels and the other infrastructure we will need in the coming decades. What began as something which was interesting and, I felt, important, now also feels quite urgent.
Having now written a fair amount of it, I can safely say this is not just an important topic, it's also fascinating. There are so many unexpected stories and nuggets I've encountered which I can't wait to share with you.
All being well, the book should be out in mid-2023. In the meantime here is something from when the book deal was announced. Here is something I wrote in the Sunday Times which touches ever so briefly on some of these topics - at least in relation to renewables policy.
The Summit (The Biggest Battle of the Second World War – fought behind closed doors) is the definitive story of the Bretton Woods conference.
‘Brimming with the sort of vivid details that make the past come alive, The Summit is both an impressive work of scholarship and an absolute delight to read’ – Liaquat Ahamed, author of Lords of Finance
‘Who would have thought that an account of an economic summit could be so absorbing? But it was no ordinary summit and Ed Conway’s is an exceptional account’ – Evan Davis, BBC presenter and author of Made in Britain
‘Brilliantly researched, and hugely entertaining, this is an essential book about one of the most important economic events of the twentieth century’ – Keith Lowe, author of Savage Continent
And the other book:
50 Economics Ideas (you really need to know). A user’s guide to economics – everything from supply & demand and interest rates to financial crises and globalisation. A whistlestop tour through all the concepts you’ll need to bluff your way through any economic conversation.
“Attractively presented and… pleasurable and rewarding to read” – The Mail on Sunday
“Essential for anyone keen to make sense of the causes, ramifications and solutions to the current crisis and should be on the desk of everyone working in the City” – The Daily Telegraph
“Commendably comprehensive and concise” – David Smith, The Sunday Times
In the summer of 2022 we published a new paperback edition. You can have a sneak peek at it here.