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Publisher's Summary

The Development of an Extraordinary Species....

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

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  • Mark
  • Raglan, New Zealand
  • 09-04-12

Up to the usual high standard

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.

18 of 18 people found this review helpful

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  • Robert
  • Whitby, ON, Canada
  • 08-06-12

Very Compelling

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.

14 of 14 people found this review helpful

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  • Jacobus
  • Johannesburg, South Africa
  • 04-30-12

A book that will get you talking...

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.

17 of 18 people found this review helpful

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  • Justin
  • LABRADOR, Australia
  • 06-01-12

Exceptional piece from an intellectual omnivore.

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.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Diamond's books are wonderful

I love Jared Diamond's writing. Every time I read one of his books, it resonates so clearly that I can't help but enjoy his thoughts tremendously. In The Third Chimpanzee, Diamond ranges widely in his thoughts of this odd third chimpanzee (us) and sometimes goes in rather unexpected places.

Some highlights include how testes correlate with number of partners in sex and how public/private sex is, and the arts are a social method of sexual selection.

The migration of some of human kind can be studied by the transformation of proto-Indo-European language, but he includes a fervent discussion of the loss of human languages as the few powerful languages consolidate their power and their populations on the world.

He includes wonderful comments on genocide in chimps and genocide in humans across time. How we have permission to kill "them," but we must attempt to refrain from killing "us."

Most disjointed was his theories of life on other worlds, which covers a part of a chapter.

What is most interesting is the echoes of his other writings you can hear in this book. Echoes in the sense that it doesn't matter if the book came before or after this 2006 publication. His themes have remained constant: Ecological collapse, success of an area and the people controlling that area based on resources, and domesticate-able plant and animal species.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Clare
  • Vancouver, BC, Canada
  • 05-02-12

Fascinating & Thought Provoking

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.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Completely fascinating and absorbing

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!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • eric
  • Mars, The Solar System, the Milky Way
  • 03-12-13

Great book

Would you listen to The Third Chimpanzee again? Why?

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.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Third Chimpanzee?

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.

Have you listened to any of Rob Shapiro’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

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.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

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.

Any additional comments?

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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1992 really?

As a huge Jared Diamond fan I had probably unconsciously made my mind up about this book before I read a single page. It is an older book, and that was particularly irksome to me at several points when I thought to myself "I could have learned and known all this in 1992". If you have read other works by Jared Diamond there is some overlap. The beginnings of 'Guns germs and steel" as well as 'Collapse' are here. Those ideas each get about a chapter and a half toward the end. For some that may be repetitive, but there is plenty not covered in his other other books, such as the genetics of aging and mate selection. The narration is great, nothing to distract from the book itself. Bottom line if you like Jared Diamond you won't be disappointed.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Intriguing and sobering!

What did you love best about The Third Chimpanzee?

Diamond's original and well documented points of view.

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

Scientific interest tied to human future.

Which scene was your favorite?

I was very much impressed by biocide in islands and the Americas due to humankind.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Meet your close relatives and start thinking.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Balor of the Evil Eye
  • 08-19-13

A nice precursor to Guns, Germs and Steel

Diamond's treatise on the evolution of man is a compelling presentation. Repeatedly citing how minimal the percentage difference in the genes from which ourselves and our closest primate cousins are made (it has been since proven that the difference is larger than Diamond thought - this doesn't impact on the thrust of his argument, however), he argues that so much of what makes us different is, in fact, so little of what we are. In his attempt to highlight the similarities he introduces lucid and persuasive arguments about sexual behaviour, language, other forms of communication, agriculture and conquest, all of which serves to provide the reader/listener with an good holistic understanding of the factors that influenced our development.
This title is a good precursor for his superior later work Guns, Germs and Steel.
Good narration, easy to listen to - though the quality of what's being said really helps the actor along.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Miss C Walsh
  • 07-13-17

Everyone MUST listen to this book!

this book was incredible: Moving and thought provoking, dealing with the harsh truth our impact and has had on this planet throughout our entire existence and also where it may take us.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • James
  • 06-07-12

Interesting read

An interesting read about our beginnings as humans and possible future for our species and Earth. Read by an engaging and clear narrator.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Priyaranjan Padhi
  • 11-17-17

Excellent

This book should be mandatory reading for all starting with people in the richest & most powerful county in the world. I wonder how many influential lawmakers not just in the US but around the world have read this book.As the author mentions, One of the few unique things about humans is the ability to learn from past and present and plan for future. Not a lot of these people in high places or people like us are putting this to good use. In every country around the world, there is somebody in charge of every trivial thing except for the future of this planet. Before we give traction to the idea that we ought populate other planets, we ought to give our best efforts to save this one, given the extremely low odds(1/10^......) of intelligent species/ or even conditions. currently that could sustain life as we know it, in the parts of the universe studied so far.

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  • Garry
  • 11-10-16

A new perspective on so many things human

Why do we do what we do ?

Why did we do things in the past?

What happens in the near future if we keep it up?

This book provides more answers to those questions than most

Personally I think Jared should rename this book I to something way more provocative you'll understand this suggestion most likely upon completion !

Definitely worth your time!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • TooT
  • 06-28-17

Interesting and educational

If you could sum up The Third Chimpanzee in three words, what would they be?

Interesting accessible education

What did you like best about this story?

The care with which the book is structured.

Have you listened to any of Rob Shapiro’s other performances? How does this one compare?

No.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

No.

Any additional comments?

I have to listen pretty carefully to this one but once I took the trouble to do that, I found that the work is pleasant to think about, easy to interact with, and stimulating. I've begun thinking about the world around me in terms of evolution, testing what I know about the world against this book, and trying to decide what I agree with or not. We're still evolving, I wonder how much of our sexual behaviours have to do with social developments around disease control rather than being the end product of evolutionary behaviours from the past. Fun to listen to for just that reason - lots to consider.

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  • Lyola
  • 05-03-17

Needs updating

Overall a brilliant discussion but sadly out of date with regard to DNA. Otherwise a very thought provoking thesis.