Most of us take for granted the features of our modern society, from air travel and telecommunications to literacy and obesity. Yet for nearly all of its six million years of existence, human society had none of these things. While the gulf that divides us from our primitive ancestors may seem unbridgeably wide, we can glimpse much of our former lifestyle in those largely traditional societies still or recently in existence. Societies like those of the New Guinea Highlanders remind us that it was only yesterday - in evolutionary time - when everything changed and that we moderns still possess bodies and social practices often better adapted to traditional than to modern conditions.
The World until Yesterday provides a mesmerizing firsthand picture of the human past as it had been for millions of years - a past that has mostly vanished - and considers what the differences between that past and our present mean for our lives today.
This is Jared Diamond’s most personal book to date, as he draws extensively from his decades of field work in the Pacific islands, as well as evidence from Inuit, Amazonian Indians, Kalahari San people, and others. Diamond doesn’t romanticize traditional societies - after all, we are shocked by some of their practices - but he finds that their solutions to universal human problems such as child rearing, elder care, dispute resolution, risk, and physical fitness have much to teach us. A characteristically provocative, enlightening, and entertaining book, The World until Yesterday will be essential and delightful listening.
©2012 Jared Diamond (P)2012 Penguin Audio
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It was fine.
I really like Jared Diamond and found many of his other books to have ideas that changed my perspectives on the world. This book is similar but instead of a few world-shaking ideas like "Guns, Germs, and Steel" this was more about hundreds of little ideas. I came away happy I had heard it and honestly better informed about human culture in general but to be honest it felt like a bit of grind by the end.
The great narration is what kept me listening to the very end. Other than that, much of what I recall about this book is what I learned about the people and history of New Guinea.
Diamond spent much too much time on on things no one could be interested in or want to know. Started off fine but declined in to facts about a car wreck
Guns, Germs and Steel is a favorite of mine and I was looking forward to Jared Diamond's latest. Unfortunately, it didn't have nearly the scope of the prior book. "The World" seemed to re-hash the same issues based on his observations of the indigenous peoples of New Guinea. Some interesting insights but overall, somewhat dull and uninspiring.
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