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The World until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies? | [Jared Diamond]

The World until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies?

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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

What Members Say

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3.9 (435 )
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  •  
    Ben 06-12-14
    Ben 06-12-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
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    "Jared Diamond's Interesting Life and Career"
    Would you try another book from Jared Diamond and/or Jay Snyder?

    Yes, only because I've read others from Jared Diamond, and they are much better than this one.


    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    Least interesting - all the anecdotes from Jared's life and career. That might be the most interesting to others but not the reason I picked up this book. Not a lot of new insights, just anecdotal filler complementing a lot of what he already said in Collapse and Guns, Germs and Steel


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Collin 01-23-14
    Collin 01-23-14 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "Good look at things that once where."
    Would you listen to The World until Yesterday again? Why?

    I would, but would jump around a bit more to different topics I wanted to look at.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The World until Yesterday?

    Diamonds personal stories were quite griping. The section on religion opened my eyes on another reason for religion that I didn't know.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The store of the young child hit by a car and how justice was applied in their culture.


    If you could give The World until Yesterday a new subtitle, what would it be?

    How have people changed sense they once all lived in traditional societies


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    T. Myers 01-09-14
    T. Myers 01-09-14

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Very informative but plodding"
    Would you listen to The World until Yesterday again? Why?

    Probably not.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    N/A


    What about Jay Snyder’s performance did you like?

    It was fine.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Not really.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andy Westport, CT, United States 08-27-13
    Andy Westport, CT, United States 08-27-13 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "armchair guide to new guinea"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Don 06-12-13
    Don 06-12-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    4
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    "Boring and I usually like boring"
    Would you try another book from Jared Diamond and/or Jay Snyder?

    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


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kim 01-21-13
    Kim 01-21-13 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great idea, poorly executed"

    Though an excellent concept, The World until Yesterday drones on, wallowing in poor analogies and disjointed stories. Not enough insight and "big picture" ideas, difficulty tying it all together.

    6 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DevoW Salt Lake City, UT, United States 08-25-13
    DevoW Salt Lake City, UT, United States 08-25-13 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Not up to Guns, Germs and Steel standard"

    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.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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