This book purports to be a discussion of how the rediscovery of one of Lucretius' works ignited the Renaissance. It falls somewhat short of this lofty goal, but manages nonetheless to be a really interesting and well-researched representation of European culture during the time of the Western Schism of the Roman Catholic Church. The lives of popes and anti-popes of the period, their backstories, their political alliances, and the lot of everyday people is graphically discussed.
E.O. Wilson stands among the foremost authorities on modern evolutionary biology and this book presents a fascinating view of modern theories in the origins of human culture. Instead of focusing purely on close genetic relatives of homo sapiens, he takes an interesting approach and compares our species with the other highly socialized animals we know of. A fascinating read for anyone interested in learning more details about human history. The only thing keeping me from a 5-star rating on this book is his occasional divergences into theology and the intro regarding artist Paul Gauguin which seems out of place.
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