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

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Penguin, Dec 31, 2012 - Social Science - 512 pages
9 Reviews
The bestselling author of Collapse and Guns, Germs and Steel surveys the history of human societies to answer the question: What can we learn from traditional societies that can make the world a better place for all of us?

“As he did in his Pulitzer Prize-winning Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond continues to make us think with his mesmerizing and absorbing new book." Bookpage


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. Provocative, enlightening, and entertaining, The World Until Yesterday is an essential and fascinating read.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - quiBee - LibraryThing

This book, by Jared Diamond, looks at traditional societies and the way they look/looked at the world and points out that our Western ways of doing things is not the only way of looking at the world ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - GlennBell - LibraryThing

The book was interesting and had some specific areas of interest for me including discussion of religion, diet, health, and language. Some topics such as that of constructive paranoia were discussed ... Read full review

Contents

List of Tables and Figures
SETTING THE STAGE BY DIVIDING SPACE
Compensation for the Death of a Child
A Short Chapter About a Tiny
A Longer Chapter About Many Wars
Bringing Up Children
Cherish Abandon
DANGER AND RESPONSE
RELIGION LANGUAGE AND HEALTH
Speaking in Many Tongues
Salt Sugar Fat and Sloth
At Another Airport
Acknowledgments
Index
Illustration Credits
Copyright

Lions and Other Dangers

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About the author (2012)

Jared Diamond is a professor of geography at the University of California, Los Angeles. He began his scientific career in physiology and expanded into evolutionary biology and biogeography. Among his many awards are the National Medal of Science, the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, Japan’s Cosmos Prize, a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, and the Lewis Thomas Prize honoring the Scientist as Poet, presented by The Rockefeller University. His previous books include Why Is Sex Fun?, The Third Chimpanzee, Collapse, The World Until Yesterday, and Guns, Germs, and Steel, winner of the Pulitzer Prize.

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