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The Secret of Our Success

How Culture Is Driving Human Evolution, Domesticating Our Species, and Making Us Smarter
Narrated by: Jonathan Yen
Length: 17 hrs and 15 mins
5 out of 5 stars (72 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Humans are a puzzling species. On the one hand, we struggle to survive on our own in the wild, often failing to overcome even basic challenges, like obtaining food, building shelters, or avoiding predators. On the other hand, human groups have produced ingenious technologies, sophisticated languages, and complex institutions that have permitted us to successfully expand into a vast range of diverse environments.

What has enabled us to dominate the globe, more than any other species, while remaining virtually helpless as lone individuals? This book shows that the secret of our success lies not in our innate intelligence, but in our collective brains - on the ability of human groups to socially interconnect and learn from one another over generations.

Drawing insights from lost European explorers, clever chimpanzees, mobile hunter-gatherers, neuroscientific findings, ancient bones, and the human genome, Joseph Henrich demonstrates how our collective brains have propelled our species' genetic evolution and shaped our biology.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2015 Princeton University Press (P)2018 Tantor

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

One of the rare accessible, paradigm-shifting books!

I think this book will appeal to both academics and the general public. However, some of the evolutionary concepts *might* require a little extra work (e.g. Wikipedia) for some non-scientific folks.
For me this book significantly shifted my perspective and understanding of the “human story” in a major and permanent way. Other books that had that level of impact on me were “Thinking Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman and Jared Diamond’s “Guns, Germs, and Steel”.


2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Excellent book

Excellent book on culture-gene coevolution. It’s a must read for everyone who works in the domain of culture or simply wants to better understand culture. The audio performance is great too

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great book, but audio is way too quiet. Can barely heart with AirPods in the city streets

Great book, but audio is way too quiet. Can barely heart with AirPods in the city streets

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I can't get past the narrator

This book is unlistenable, at least for me.

Going to buy the book and read it.

Buy with care.

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Significant Insights

I gave this five stars because it had insights I had not come across anywhere else. That being said, it’s a bit pedantic, but it’s not bad.

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insightful summary of culture/gene coevolution

A clear and insightful summary of culture/gene coevolution. Reminder of collective greatness and individual weakness/dependence

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Exceptional overview of cultural evolution

I'm a sucker for popular press lit reviews of new science, and this is one of the best I've listened to. Written by a scholar passionate about the impact of culture on human behavior, this book changed my understanding human behavior and culture. My wife found it a little dry, but I thought that the author did a great job of coming up with stories to illustrate the science and place ideas in context.

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  • 11-03-18

Tops

Easily one of the best non-fiction books I've read. The narration was excellent as well. This is a must-read. If you love the social sciences, and you love reading academic papers, you will love this book.

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  • Xiphias
  • 07-09-19

Amazing book on how humans have evolved

Loved it, good stories and robust scientific basis - but I'd expect that from someone who is one of the top experts in this topic. Great narrator too!

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  • VDAN
  • 08-16-18

Paradigm-shifting book, despite far-too-American..

The book certainly deserves to be a best seller and I'm very happy to have it in audiobook format. I just wish they had a bit less affected narrator...