As a huge Jared Diamond fan I had probably unconsciously made my mind up about this book before I read a single page. It is an older book, and that was particularly irksome to me at several points when I thought to myself "I could have learned and known all this in 1992". If you have read other works by Jared Diamond there is some overlap. The beginnings of 'Guns germs and steel" as well as 'Collapse' are here. Those ideas each get about a chapter and a half toward the end. For some that may be repetitive, but there is plenty not covered in his other other books, such as the genetics of aging and mate selection. The narration is great, nothing to distract from the book itself. Bottom line if you like Jared Diamond you won't be disappointed.
Diamond's original and well documented points of view.
Scientific interest tied to human future.
I was very much impressed by biocide in islands and the Americas due to humankind.
Meet your close relatives and start thinking.
I am an English teacher in China and can now read and write some Chinese.I have been to 13 countries on 4 continents.I am an avid audiophile
The author is a very talented and insightful writer due to his extensive knowledge about a myriad of subjects and his frequent first hand research of ancient cultures,modern man and animals.For fans of environmental protection and preservation of our resources he has a lot to say.There are plenty of people here who don't believe in global warming or man's eventual demise,but I think he has proven how man,despite his talent for language and his ability to stand upright and do amazing things with his hands,is not really that far removed from his ape ancestors.The evolution from ape to man took quite a long time and the resulting characteristics that differentiate man from ape are well substantiated.He also points out how man has many shortcomings compared to his animal counterparts,such as elephants generating up to six sets of teeth in a life time or lizards that can regrow lost tails for instance.Furthermore,man's ability to proliferate and reproduce may not be as good as a rabbits or rats,but we have done so much to out live nearly every other species that we are becoming the planet's number one danger.
I was really interested in reading/listening to a book about how evolutionary biology explains current human behavior... I think this book does address the topic but I wished it organized the supporting data more clearly and was less glib about the conclusions reached.
It is clear the author is well versed in the topic. However his extrapolations seemed rather extreme at times - in one case going from an example of a friend he has to a statement regarding general mate selection preference for all humans...
It could be that his general conclusions are well supported in other studies he did not cite or cited elsewhere in the book, but the way the material is presented made the conclusions seem very capricious… As a result, reading the book feels very uncomfortable as I feel a lot of facts are missing...
This broad ranging book reads to me like a an overview of Jared Diamond's other books, covering each of his pet topics: Our similarity to chimps, a circumstantial (rather than racist) explanation for the success of European conquerors, the breadcrumb trail that is Proto-Indo-European linguistics, Papua New Guinea anecdotes, bird taxonomy, man's long history of environmental degradation and species eradication.
Mr. Diamond seems less assured as a writer here, and there are some rather daft tangents, (warning, at one point, of the existential danger of searching for alien life.) but overall it is a fun and enlightening book and may be a helpful primer anyone not steeled for the epic slog through Guns, Germs, and Steel or Collapse.
After having read Guns, Germs and Steal as well as Collapse I decided to read this earlier work. I was not disappointed.
Yes, I recommend this book all the time! Dr. Diamonds observations on the world around us are simple to understand.
Explanations on the differences between chimps and their next closest animal kingdom relative (which is us, humans).
He has a very pleasant and compelling voice.
I read and love all of Dr. Diamonds books. This one doesn't disappoint.
Gripping, persuasive, well-researched, and compellingly woven. Why don't we teach science this way in grade school? It read as your favorite professor in college was providing you a front work lecture full of almost everything you've ever wondered about in evolutionary biology, the missing link - not any more, species extinction and even a moving case for conservation... we know why the Neanderthals became extinct so quickly after cromagnon entered the scene and hasn't much changed in the nature of man since. This story contains wonder love sex tragedy murder and hope! Love it.... The last third was a bit more technical and not in my sweet spot as much as say why chimps have larger testes than man and man larger than a gorilla or why rather than the Frostian 2, 5 roads diverged in a wood and we became the dominant species on earth, but it was no less insightful. Why have we only been able to domesticate not tame - there is a difference, but domesticate such a few large mammal species? Zebras? Aren't they just striped horses? Not so fast.... and is more to do with family structure than temperament.... Love it...