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

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

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By (author) Professor of Geography Jared Diamond, Read by Jay Snyder

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  • Publisher: PENGUIN AUDIO
  • Format: CD-Audio | 16 pages
  • Dimensions: 135mm x 147mm x 53mm | 340g
  • Publication date: 31 December 2012
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 1611761476
  • ISBN 13: 9781611761474
  • Edition: Unabridged
  • Edition statement: Unabridged
  • Sales rank: 680,349

Product description

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. A characteristically provocative, enlightening, and entertaining book, "The World Until Yesterday" will be essential and delightful reading.

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Author information

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.

Review quote

Praise for "Collapse" A "New York Times" bestseller "A magisterial effort packed with insight and written with clarity and enthusiasm. It's also the deal of the year--the equivalent of a year's college course by an engaging, brilliant professor, all for the price of a book. -- BusinessWeek "Extraordinary in erudition and originality, compelling in [its] ability to relate the digitized pandemonium of the present to the hushed agrarian sunrises of the past." -- The New York Times Book Review "Diamond's most influential gift may be his ability to write about geopolitical and environmental systems in ways that don't just educate and provoke, but entertain." -- The Seattle Times "Extremely persuasive...replete with fascinating stories, a treasure trove of historical anecdotes [and] haunting statistics." -- The Boston Globe "Essential reading..."Collapse" [shows] that resilient societies are nimble ones, capable of a long-term planning and of abandoning deeply entrenched but ultimately destructive core values and beliefs." -- Nature "There are hopeful messages in "Collapse." With Diamond's help, maybe we'll learn to see our problems a little more clearly before we chop down that last palm tree." -- Time "Extraordinarily panoramic...Diamond's complex historical web of how human communities either master their environment or become victims of them...takes a lifetime of research and, in normal English, leads the reader painstakingly where the media and intellectual journals have often refused to go." -- The Washington Post "Rendering complex history and science into entertaining prose, Diamond reminds us that those who ignore history are bound to repeat it." -- People (four stars) "Taken together, "Guns, Germs and Steel" and "Collapse" represent one of the most significant projects embarked upon by any intellectual in our generation. They are magnificent books...I read both thinking what literature might be like if every author knew so much, wrote so clearly and formed arguments with such care." -- The New York Times "Read this book. It will challenge you and make you think." -- Scientific American