The World Until Yesterday

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Posted by: stak
Tags: books
Posted on: 2013-03-24 20:10:46

Yet another book review: The World Until Yesterday, also by Jared Diamond (author of Guns, Germs and Steel which I reviewed previously). Personally I found this book even better than GGS because it provides more practical knowledge about small-scale societies and specific things that they do better than we do in our large-scale societies (as well as things they do worse). As he keeps saying, the history of the world is filled with natural experiments - different societies tried different things; some failed and some succeeded, and we should try to combine the best attributes of these societies into our own. In some cases adopting changes is hard because it requires large changes to how our society is structured, but there are lots of cases where we can adopt the changes on an individual basis as well.

The book covers different aspects of societies in different chapters - personally I found some chapters (e.g. the ones on food and raising children) more interesting than others (e.g. the ones on wars and peace). However I'm glad I struggled through the early uninteresting chapters as they do provide some useful context for the more interesting chapters later. Overall I found this to a very well-balanced book, and just like GGS, gives me a larger perspective on how the world works, which is really cool.

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