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... show more
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 yesterdayin evolutionary timewhen 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 yearsa past that has mostly vanishedand 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 societiesafter all, we are shocked by some of their practicesbut 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 reading.
Publish date: December 31st 2012
Pages no: 512
Edition language: English
, Social Science
Very interesting. It was great to see an honest comparison between traditional and modern societies that does not romanticize or demonize either. The only issue I have is with the breadth of societies reviewed. In the initial section, the author mentions a number of traditional societies that he int...
A rather dense, but enjoyable work on comparing primitive societies and how they compare to our modern world. I liked it very much, and while I had to read it in small chunks, it's worth the time and effort. Be warned, however, that some of the stories are very disturbing. In spite of all that, I in...
BOTW R4BBC Blurbs: Drawing upon several decades of experience living and working in Papua New Guinea, Professor Diamond shows how traditional societies can offer an extraordinary window into how our ancestors lived for millions of years - until virtually yesterday, in evolutionary terms - and provi...