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

Unabridged Audiobook

Written By: Jared Diamond

Narrated By: Jay Snyder

Publisher: Penguin Audio

Date: December 2012

Duration: 18 hours 34 minutes

Summary:

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.

Genres:

  • Martin Prahl

    Like so many times before, Diamond interweaves seemingly unrelated aspects of history, physiology and psychology into a noteworthy lesson about humanity as a whole--this time about what affluent modern nations can learn from the old, rugged traditional ones. Diamond is no Gladwell in terms of writing style and doesn't try to be. However, the overall theme of the book is conveyed sufficiently and does achieve what his works are known to do--thinking outside the box and leaving the reader with a new perspective on society and human life overall.