The World Until Yesterday received mixed reviews, with the New York Times observing that while the subject is fascinating, Diamond’s writing style is “curiously impersonal.” Diamond later turned the book into the subject of a 2013 TED talk. If the past helps us understand the present, and help informed decisions on the future, then this work is an important one, and a fascinating read. The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies? It has sections of research picked almost randomly in support of alternately prudent and ridiculous opinions. However, the findings in this book pale in comparison to the previous one. I feel like I need a rehash of some of the facts I read, to further consider them...but I just don't want to put the time into going back and rereading sections now (it's already overdue at the library, plus I have several fiction books waiting that will be quick reads!). Whether this intellectual capacity and potential is exercised in stunning works of technological innovation, as has been the great historical achievement of the West, or through the untangling of the complex threads of memory inherent in a myth – a primary concern, for example, of the Aborigines of Australia – is simply a matter of choice and orientation, adaptive insights and cultural priorities. Not that I necessarily disagree with his reasoning on many things but as a book, meh, no. Why was it that some cultures such as our own rose to technological, economic and political predominance, while others such as the Aborigines of Australia did not? The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies? Simply put, when it comes to culture, Diamond is on unsteady ground. As interesting as nonfiction can be, I have such a hard time getting through it...they are seldom page turners. Why would I jump unless I’m prepared for the consequences? So while I liked this one, it did take me a long time to finish. The title is a comment that, in the context of history, we all, until recently, lived in traditional societies and Diamond describes key elements of that lifestyle. Find helpful customer reviews and review ratings for The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies? A book of great promise reads as a compendium of the obvious, ethnology by anecdote. Such an approach demanded, by definition, a willingness to step back from the constraints of one's own prejudices and preconceptions. Many of our Goodreads friends have reviewed this book better than I can, and I encourage all to rea. But, on the other hand, had the Dreaming become a universal devotion, we would not be contemplating today the consequences of climate change and industrial processes that threaten the life supports of the planet. Most Americans want to blame someone other than themselves as much as possible. I had the richest upbringing possible, an upbringing inconceivable for Americans.”, “proposed as appropriate compensation. In The World Until Yesterday, Diamond points out some of the benefits of traditional societies that he thinks modern society has eschewed to its detriment. See 1 question about The World Until Yesterday…, Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, Good Minds Suggest—Jared Diamond's Favorite Books About Traditional Societies. Pre-publication book reviews and features keeping readers and industry influencers in the know since 1933. It's heavy on analysis, yet it doesn't have many clear prescriptions at all. This can be contrasted with the "cultural hypothesis" which relies more heavily on the role culture plays in explaining the social evolution and dissemination of technology (The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism: and Other Writings (Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics)). 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. Rejecting notions of race, intelligence, innate biological differences of any kind, he finds his explanation in the environment and geography. What was the nature of knowing? A pool has to be fenced so that it’s not an ‘attractive nuisance.’ Most New Guineans don’t have pools, but even the rivers that we frequented didn’t have signs saying ‘Jump at your own risk,’ because it’s obvious. There are a few interesting chapters, but I probably skimmed about 60% of the book. In Guns, Germs and Steel, Diamond set out to solve what was for him a conundrum. This is a frustrating book to review. This can be contrasted with the "cultural hypothesis" which relies more heavily on the role culture plays in explaining the social evolution and dissemination of technology (The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism: and Other Writings (Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics)). Responsibility in the U.S. has been taken from the person acting and has been placed on the owner of the land or the builder of the house. I found the chapters on child rearing, elder care, dispute resolution, risk, and nutrition most informative and while not idealizing traditional societies, the author makes the case that there is, indeed, much we can learn from them. One could be forgiven for concluding that traditional societies have little more to teach us save that we should embrace healthier diets, include grandparents in child rearing, learn a second language, seek reconciliation not retribution in divorce proceedings, and eat less salt. Any particular section recommendations from those who have read it? His conclusions are the very definition of mundane. Really felt like about a 60 page book that was just ex. His attempt to explain the origins of religious experience seems naive at best. risk management) would perhaps be pretty interesting for your course. Read honest and unbiased product reviews from our users. Resources & Education. In the eclectic way of the best of 19th-century scholarship, inquiry in one academic field led to another. Yet for nearly all of its six million years of existence, human society had none of these things. Read honest and unbiased product reviews from our users. The World Until Yesterday is the latest installment in the conversation, bringing insights from anthropology, evolutionary biology, linguistics, and political science to explore ways in which the human race can find help for the future in the past. The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies? While many of these changes have been positive (we live longer, are subject to less violence and have access to many goods and services that were unavailable to our ancestors), some of them are less so (epidemics of obesity and diabetes, and incidents of isolation). -Jessamy Four stars for content, 3 stars for style. ", he's asking "are there things we can still learn from the people we've out-developed?". Is it really possible to dismiss God in a chapter? And he devotes two chapters to the dangers inherent in indigenous life, which lead to a chapter on religion, for "our traditional constant search for the causes of danger may have contributed to religion's origins". His Favorite Books About Traditional Societies: The scholar offers wisdom gleaned from ancient lifestyles in this nonfiction list and in his new... To see what your friends thought of this book, Hm, the section on dealing with threats to life (i.e. It is a mistake that is very often made to see these 'primitive' societies as a kind of living fossiles, reflecting almost perfectly the life of so many years ago. ‘Until yesterday’, our diet had not been narrowed to the three major grains that today constitute 50 to 60 per cent of the world’s caloric intake: rice, wheat and maize. ... Book Review: The World Until Yesterday The theme of this book is the differences between WEIRD (Western, educated, industrial, rich and democratic) modern cultures and tradition human cultures. One of the more interesting of these was his discussion of relative styles of child rearing - and it is probably true that a child benefits from continuous "skin contact" with its mother and other adults and rarely being on its own. In The World Until Yesterday, Jared Diamond pays heed to traditional ideas, from which our 'weird' world could learn. Let us know what’s wrong with this preview of, Published The whole experience provoked him to re-examine the idea of perceived risk vs. actual risk in different societies, and to adjust his behaviour in his own life. The best part of the book is the personal insights that Jared Diamond delivers. Many of our Goodreads friends have reviewed this book better than I can, and I encourage all to read each review. Jared Diamond: we have much to learn from traditional societies - video, Science Weekly podcast: Jared Diamond on traditional societies, Jared Diamond in row over claim tribal peoples live in 'state of constant war'. Franz Boas, trained in Germany a generation before Einstein, was interested in the optical properties of water, and throughout his doctoral studies his research was plagued by problems of perception, which came to fascinate him. 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. Every society, it was assumed, progressed through the same stages, in the same sequence. Jared Diamond is quite famous for his well-argued "geographical hypothesis" for helping to explain global (continental) inequality (Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies). I found the chapters on child rearing, elder care, dispute resolution, risk, and nutrition most informative and while not idealizing traditional societies, the author makes the case that there is, indeed, much we can learn from them. The World Until Yesterday by Jared Diamond – review Should we look to traditional societies to help us tweak our lives? In place of technological wizardry, they invented a matrix of connectivity, an intricate web of social relations based on more than 100 named kin relationships. Review: Jared Diamond: The world until yesterday: what can we learn from traditional societies? This reminds me”, Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Nonfiction (2013). (I haven't read Chimpanzee yet or some of the others.) Through a comparison between traditional societies and our own, Diamond considers whether there are forms of social organisation and values from the past which would be useful for us to adopt today. There are a few interesting chapters, but I probably skimmed about 60% of the book. In. Book of the year, 2013, for me. "Guns, Germs and Steel" is Dr. Diamond's masterpiece and this book augments what we learned from it. Welcome back. Far ahead of his time, Boas believed that every distinct social community, every cluster of people distinguished by language or adaptive inclination, was a unique facet of the human legacy and its promise. Read honest and unbiased product reviews from our users. However, the findings in this book pale in comparison to the previous one. World Until Yesterday, Professor Diamond has taken on the huge and provocative subject of who has got it right: the technologically advanced westerners or the small-scale egalitarian hunter-gatherer groups of 50 to 100 individuals living in direct contact with nature. But I knew I wasn't getting that from Daniel Quinn. But the explicit drawing of lessons from traditional societies soon ends, leaving the reader to draw their own conclusions, and from here the book is an excellent and flowing read. Clearly, had our species as a whole followed the ways of the Aborigines, we would not have put a man on the moon. (Please don't expect anything revelatory. Its subject is vast, yet his focus is often very narrow. Hm, the section on dealing with threats to life (i.e. Every effort should be made to understand the perspective of the other, to learn the way they perceive the world, the very nature of their thoughts. The title is a comment that, in the context of history, we all, until recently, lived in traditional societies and Diamond describes key elements of that lifestyle. Long winded but thorough. Technological and environmental transformations give rise to differing social organisation and changing values and culture. There is little originality in his overriding conclusion that western civilization has traded community for convenience. It became the central revelation of modern anthropology. It's heavy on analysis, yet it doesn't have many clear prescriptions at all. At times a bit boring, at others very interesting. His insights open cracks in my brain that have been sealed with the creosote of intellectual arrogance-- false assumptions. This is a long book. This is a fun read and the author an engaging, creative personality, up until he gets to the chapter on religion, when he gets somewhat disdainful. Diamond makes no claims to be an ethnographer, and most of his conclusions and observations are drawn from his experience with Dani porters who assisted him during his New Guinea bird studies. at Amazon.com. Jared Diamond is a materialist. What I did like were the smaller insights like the mental benefits of being multi-lingual, and the connection between native diets and health. It touches on a lot of interesting subjects, but avoids discussing many of the most thought-provoking implications. It was an interesting read. His subject is the cultural practices of several groups of traditional societies, and the lessons that us Westerners can learn from their practices. So while I liked this one, it did take me a long time to finish. Diamond spent a lot of time with the peoples of Papua New Guinea, and he enthusiastically describes all facets of their lives. Wow, very interesting. Provocative, enlightening, and entertaining, The World Until Yesterday is an essential and fascinating read. It's always exciting when Jared Diamond publishes a new book and the advance copies were hugely sought after when they arrived at the office in October. Read honest and unbiased product reviews from our users. Americans may not believe, he added, that Tibetans can achieve enlightenment in one lifetime, but they do. The last chapters on religion, language and health were not what I was expecting for some reason, but make total sense in showing the contrasts between the modern and tribal ways of life. For him, historical and cultural development is rooted in environment, geography and technology. (Please don't expect anything revelatory. at Amazon.com. © 2021 Guardian News & Media Limited or its affiliated companies. Review: The World Until Yesterday. The voices of traditional societies ultimately matter because they can still remind us that there are indeed alternatives, other ways of orienting human beings in social, spiritual and ecological space. He obviously has never experienced what he is trying to explain away. As interesting as nonfiction can be, I have such a hard time getting through it...they are seldom page turners. In a way it's a return to the first chapter of Guns Germs & Steel, but instead of asking "how did the West get so advanced? The World Until Yesterday is Diamond's homage to the region and the people he loves: the place that has sustained him and nurtured his thought. In Collapse, Diamond returned to the theme of environmental determinism as he pondered why and how great civilisations come to an end. Diamond is a controversial “public” scientist and educator who is into big ideas about the forces that have shaped what might be described as human culture and ecology. Wed 9 Jan 2013 05.22 EST by Viking. Find helpful customer reviews and review ratings for The World Until Yesterday at Amazon.com. Home Page » Forum index » The Archives » Archived Book Discussion Forums » Archived Book Discussions 2012-2013 » The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies? Resolve conflicts and Manage risk all facets of their cultural practices of several groups of Traditional societies? but... 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