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The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies?
Jared Diamond.
Publisher Penguin  
Format paperback
ISBN 9780143124405
Pages/Publication Date 498/2013
Daedalus Item Code 49098
This item is not available.
Most of us take for granted such aspects of our society as telecommunication, literacy, even obesity. Yet for millions of years human society had none of these things, as the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Guns, Germs, and Steel and Collapse reminds us here. In evolutionary terms, argues Jared Diamond, our bodies and social practices are often ill-suited to the modern world. Following his decades of fieldwork among isolated nonindustrial societies like the New Guinea Highlanders, Diamond gives us a mesmerizing firsthand picture of humanity before the modern era. Though not romanticizing traditional societies—indeed, some of their practices are shocking to us—he finds that their solutions to universal human problems of child rearing, elder care, dispute resolution, risk, and physical fitness have much to teach us.

"A penetrating look at the ways we have evolved ... comparing practices of traditional societies and modern and industrialized societies. Diamond draws on his fieldwork in New Guinea, the Amazon, Kalahari, and other areas to compare the best and most questionable customs and practices of societies past and present. Diamond does not idealize traditional societies, with smaller populations and more interest in maintaining group harmony than modern societies organized by governments seeking to maintain order, but he does emphasize troubling trends in declining health and fitness as industrialization has spread to newly developing nations. In this fascinating book, Diamond brings fresh perspective to historic and contemporary ways of life with an eye toward those that are likely to enhance our future."—Booklist

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