We human beings share 98 percent of our genes with chimpanzees. Yet humans are the dominant species on the planet - having founded civilizations and religions, developed intricate and diverse forms of communication, learned science, built cities, and created breathtaking works of art - while chimps remain animals concerned primarily with the basic necessities of survival. What is it about that two percent difference in DNA that has created such a divergence between evolutionary cousins?
In this fascinating, provocative, passionate, funny, endlessly entertaining work, renowned Pulitzer Prize-winning author and scientist Jared Diamond explores how the extraordinary human animal, in a remarkably short time, developed the capacity to rule the world...and the means to irrevocably destroy it.
©2006 Jared Diamond (P)2012 Random House Audio
Jared Diamond is one of my favourite writers, and in 'Guns Germs and Steel' and then 'Collapse' he transformed my views of the history and future of civilisation, respectively.
This is an earlier book (1991), containing themes to be expanded in both of his later books, in addition to the main topic; how modern man emerged from being just another animal.
Because the book is 20 years old, you always worry that some more recent evidence may have arisen to strengthen or weaken his arguments, but if you can ignore this relatively minor qualm, and you enjoy popular science, then this is an absolutely fantastic listen.
A very compelling listen.
The story sucked me in and I found myself listening much longer than I had meant to several times.
Fascinating topic that is well researched, backed up with logical thought, and presented in a fashion that is easy for an non expert to understand.
If you have any interest in evolution and the effects that it had on making who we are now, I would highly suggest this book to you.
When I drive, I read... uhm listen. I like SciFi, Fantasy, some Detective and Espionage novels and Religion. Now and then I will also listen to something else.
The Third Chimpanzee was first published in 1992 although the audio version dates 10 years after publication. It is important to take note of this fact as even prof. Jared Diamond might have changed his mind on some things he wrote in the book.
One thing I found very peculiar when I listened to the book, was his side-line comment that South Africa is one of the countries that runs the real risk of genocide. I only understood his pessimism after I realised that in 1992 things really looked bleak in South Africa.
The reason I highlight the above-mentioned point, is that there might be quite a few things that he says, especially predictions that he makes that are already dated and might feel very dark and pessimistic, while he really tries to advocate a positive approach to the future of homo sapiens on this planet.
Diamond begins with the story of the evolution of humans. He describes what makes us genetically different and where we fit into the evolutionary chain. He proposes an intriguing idea, namely, that the two chimpanzee species are genetically nearer to humans than to other apes. They should according to him be classified under the homo genus.
This can be seen as the starting point of a lot of issues that he raises with ethics as the thin line that motivates each of his subject matter discussions.
The book is structured as follows: 1) Part 1 ??? Just another big species of mammal. 2) Part 2 ??? A animal with a strange life cycle. 3) Part 3 ??? Uniquely human. 4) Part 4 ??? World Conquerors. 5) Part 5 ??? Reversing our Progress overnight.
I found especially Part 1-3 fascinating. Ideas like, ???the evolution of genes does not explain human progress??? and ???Neanderthals dying at the age of 30-35 and how homo sapiens??? life cycle adapted to ensure further aging??? are just mesmerising. Part 4 and 5 became more sober and even doomsday-like. Especially in part 5 we hear Diamond???s emotional language. He doesn???t beat around the bush about the way we do things today that might cause destruction.
This book contains a vast array of subject-matter starting with evolution and ending in the dangerous human. It is well-structured and mostly well thought through. Yet some ideas might have gathered some dust since the book was published in 1992. However this is the type of book that gets people to talk and reflect on the world around them. I enjoyed it thoroughly.
Rob Shapiro???s reading of the book is fair and easy to follow.
I think Diamond???s book is worth the listen and raises important topics that need to be taken seriously by any listener of the audio book. This book will probably get you talking about what matters.
This is but one of many fantastic books that reveal Jared Diamond's omnivorous intellect. Like the others, he has a message, and that message is conveyed through researched arguments and tempered by his own experiences. The message is: We stand at the edge of change, one way leading to disaster of a scale that could mean destruction of the human species, but there is hope.
Hope lies in recognising our special past and understanding how it has led us to where the human animal is now. By understanding this past, learning lessons from those who have come before us, we can understand where our choices will lead our species and the only planet we inhabit.
Topics include what makes us unique among animals and what, after careful investigation, reveals to be not unique. Language, sex, art, culture, agriculture, natural selection, sexual selection; the list is a smorgasbord of informative research.
Not a good book for those with closed minds, nor for those who are blinkered by dogma or literal translations of holy texts. However, for those of us who are willing to listen, willing to challenge old ideas, this book illustrates the many disciplines that, when woven together, show us hope for the future.
Shapiro's voice bring these topics to life, enhancing the character found in Jared's work, revealing the importance of the author's words and his heartfelt appeal to us all.
Historical & SciFi Book Lover, especially Georgette Heyer, Lois McMaster Bujold, Connie Willis (& New Who). Also books for the kids.
I remember picking up this book when it first came out years ago. I was instantly captivated. It really is a first run at some of his later works (Guns Germs and Steel is pretty much covered in the first couple of chapters, likewise you can see the ideas behind his book Collapse). Therefore if you have read GGS a lot of this book will be familiar to you, but this is not abridged and not narrated in a monotone!
This book does have an environmental leaning, which I believe upset another reviewer, but it also covers evolutionary biology, ornithology, geography, agriculture, ancient history, anthropology, music, art, literature, sexual anthropology, xenophobia, physiology, and the development of language (my favourite section). The many and varied topics in this book are dealt with in a very easy to understand manner. Some of his theories are a tad far fetched, but most are just so brilliant, and his insights explained so clearly it is easy to get caught up with his expositions.
I was surprised that I did not notice the lack of the maps and other graphics. Like the printed book I did find the first 2/3rds of the book is the best.
I did wish the narration could have been a bit more varied. However, the narration was clear.
A good book by Diamond finally on Audible. This covers some familiar topics like those in his books Collapse and Steel, Guns and Germs. It traces human's rise, spread across the planet and effects on species and environment (worse than you think). It also discusses clashing cultures (Europeans vs natives) and how genocide is a repeating behavior of human cultures. Chimpanzees exhibit similar behaviors. As the name implies, we are the third ape. Great narrator. The author frankly states a sad truth: many species have gone extinct since the rise of humans and there are many more to go (and a lot sooner than we'd like to admit.) And of course our population is out stripping the earths resources (which is rather obvious.)
"fabric artist and quilter"
This was the second Jared Diamond I've read and the first in his series of three. It was written in the early 90's and while some things have changed, the overall message is very much the same and of course the history is the same history.
The conclusions he draws are pessimistic and a cause for worry in the 90's, and they still are, but I do think that more people are hearing the ecologists warnings and taking heed - I sure hope so for his forecast of doom for half our species worldwide is a hell of an inheritance to hand over.
Its a book that makes you stop and think and hopefully react too - it has me and I hope it does you too. Highly recommended and should be compulsory reading for leaders of nations and corporate decision makers!
I have listened to it twice now. There are certain things I think that require a second review, also it gives you a chance to completely understand certain aspects of the book. I think it does a great job of explaining certain aspects of our evolution that is overlooked or not talked about in other books, or at least it makes the information understandable to someone like me, that is someone who is not in academia.
I found the portion of the book discussing the differences between the neanderthals and the homo sapiens was the most interesting to me, as I knew hardly anything about it and it really stood out to me.
I don't believe I have, but he did a great job of making this type of book a great listen. I think that can make a world of difference.
I am not sure the question applies to this book, but as I wrote above he part about the neanderthals was, I suppose moving, as it speculates on whether or not we share any DNA with them, as well as goes into how little we know about their culture and if they had any.
I think it could use a bit of updating, but still a very solid book which anyone who wants to have an opinion on the subject should read. Highly recommended.
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 8 countries on 4 continents.I am an avid audiophile and also read a great deal.i play chess,cook,love world music and embrace the outdoors at every opportunity.My favorite listens have all been adventure driven,but I can also appreciate stuff related to science,business and even fiction.
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.
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