This was exactly what I was looking for. It is one of the most concise, informative, and information packed books on human evolution that you will find on Audible. It's like reading a condensed version of four or five books on human evolutionary development in one, as it not only covers various aspects of human evolution (bipedalism, competition with other hominids, tool use, diet, brain size, DNA research, etc.), but also balances the consensus opinions with competing theories/interpretations of data (e.g. an African origin of h. sapiens vs. multiple groups of hominids across Asia and Africa that evolved separately but intermixed).
I prefer this balanced approach over books that have a specific thesis or unifying theme(s), as they do not provide as much if any balance to the author's point of view, leaving you wondering about the objectivity of the narrative. This book doesn't have a marketing gimmick to skew its presentation of the facts.
The level of detail in this book is sometimes comparable to a college lecture. For example, this book frequently cites dates and does not shy away from referencing lesser known homo species by name, e.g. "H. antecessor" and "H. ergaster" along with the more familiar "H. erectus" and "H. sapiens", etc. Also, in several instances the book will explain the logic or methodology behind certain assumptions or findings, e.g. how and why mitochondrial DNA can be used to trace maternal lineage back in time to an "Eve", and date her existence. It then usually provides a few examples, mention a few counter-points for balance, and then moves on.
Unlike a college lecture, the presentation is so well organized and so well paced that it keeps your interest. It never gets bogged down on extraneous details or issues, never sounds like it's wasting space trying to justify a theme, etc. Here are some facts, mechanics, conclusions, examples, counterpoints... next topic.
The reader is quick, so it's almost like 4 hours of info.
I wanted to reiterate the excellent reviews already given for this book. I agree, this book is by far the best, most accessible, most interesting, presentation of evolution I've read. It's the audio-equivalent of a page-turner.
The book not only provides a concise, thorough, and logical explanation of the theory of Evolution but also methodically explains the science behind the conclusions.
The book also does an excellent job of addressing Creationist/ID arguments in a dispassionate way, then methodically explaining the scientific evidence that contradicts those arguments.
I would also recommend this book over several others I have listened to recently. Although I very much enjoyed Richard Dawkins "The Greatest Show on Earth" and would highly recommend it as a close second, the book "Why Evolution is True" is more concise, accessible, and dispassionate in tone.
"The Making of the Fittest: DNA and the Ultimate Forensic Record of Evolution" is also quite good, but has a narrower (but by no means exclusive) focus on DNA.
"Before the Dawn: Recovering the Lost History of Our Ancestors" is a great book on human evolution.
"Your Inner Fish" is good, but more of an upper division treatment of a niche topic.
However, "Why Evolution is True" is the best choice for those who are interested in learning about Evolution itself. The book covers the origins of life, to how and why fish first came on land, to when land mammals went back into the ocean and become whales (and explains the evidence), to what we have learned from DNA sequencing. It explains how feathers, wings, and eyes can evolve, the huge time frames involved, how prescient Darwin was, and so much more.
You'll learn a lot and be better able to explain and defend the science behind Evolution as well as the science that debunks ID claims. A great book that I plan to listen to again.
For those with only a passing interest in the history of English, I recommend "The Adventure of English: The Biography of a Language". It's a more casual overview of the English language that focuses more on history and vocabulary (a very good listen).
That being said, "Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue" is a great listen for those interested in the origins and evolution of the English language told not only through history and vocabulary but also through grammar and linguistics.
Don't freak out, the treatment of grammar is fairly straightforward and mostly limited to examples of case endings or nouns having genders. This will be familiar to anyone who has studied a Romance or Germanic language. (Basically, the Vikings helped kill off our case endings)
Etymologies tend to be fairly straightforward too, e.g. the author provides examples of how sounds from Indo-European words (e.g. "peter" (can't do the correct symbols) tend to change in fairly predictable ways in various languages, cf. Latin "pater" or French "pere") to Old Norse "fadir", or Germanic "vater" (pronounced "fah-ter").
That's about as scary/difficult as the etymologies get.
There is also a big chunk of a chapter dedicated to unique English peculiarities like our use of the (mostly) meaningless word "do" (e.g. "this doesn't work" instead of "this not work") and our use of "ing" to convey a present state of doing something, rather than just the present active indicative ("I'm typing" instead of "I type") (The Celts are responsible!)
The author also addresses how and why written English was different from spoken English, the theory that language shapes the way we think (he mostly disagrees), and the Semitic influences on the proto-Germanic language.
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