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The Ascent of Man

4.18 of 5 stars 4.18  ·  rating details  ·  3,929 ratings  ·  127 reviews
Lauded by critics & devoured by readers, this companion to the BBC series traces the development of science as an expression of the special gifts that characterize humans & make us preeminent animals. Bronowski's exciting, illustrated investigation offers a perspective not just on science, but on civilization itself.
Lower than the angels
The harvest of the
Paperback, 520 pages
Published September 1st 1976 by Little Brown and Company (first published 1973)
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Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
Jul 01, 2015 Joshua Nomen-Mutatio rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Joshua Nomen-Mutatio by: Bobby Trigg
"It's said that science will dehumanize people and turn them into numbers. That's false, tragically false. Look for yourself. This is the concentration camp and crematorium at Auschwitz. This is where people were turned into numbers. Into this pond were flushed the ashes of some four million people. And that was not done by gas. It was done by arrogance, it was done by dogma, it was done by ignorance. When people believe that they have absolute knowledge, with no test in reality, this is how the ...more
THE ASCENT OF MAN. (1973; this ed. 2011). Jacob Bronowski. ****.
It’s hard to believe that almost forty years ago I was watching this series on PBS. I immediately went out and bought the companion book to the series and read it straight through. This edition, published by The Folio Society, is a reprint of that edition with a new foreword by Mervyn Bragg, and was one of the presentation volumes for 2012 members. After reading it again, I found that some of its contents were slightly dated, but o
Jason Estrin
Brilliant. This book inspired me in a way that I've never been before. What is explained by the man, is nothing short of crystal clear descriptions of Humankind's physical, scientific, sociological and theological discoveries from the very first roaming tribes to our modern era. It is presented, stripped of the wordy, overly philosophical ramblings and data heavy meanderings found in other books that cover similar subject matter. Concise, endearing, earthy, genius. A must for anybody who needs a ...more
Jee Koh
Based on the BBC television series of the same name, The Ascent of Man charts the development of human civilization through the lens of scientific progress. Though clearly intended to be only an introduction to its subjects, the book is tremendously wide in scope, taking in paleontology, architecture, alchemy, industrialization, quantum physics and genetics; noticeably, it has little to say about psychology. It is organised in powerful thematic chapters that are also more or less chronological. ...more
Koen Crolla
I never thought I'd say this, but this book would be better if it had been written by an anthropologist rather than a mathematician.

The Ascent of Man is the companion book to the 1973 BBC documentary of the same name; I didn't realise this when I bought it (I haven't seen it), but I remembered I knew of its existence upon reading the introduction. It certainly reads like a BBC documentary, with a tediously slow and pompous prose that works better for television narration by David Attenborough or
Seizure Romero
This book was assigned for a college course I took about a thousand years ago. The instructor was obsessed with Jacob Bronowski, so he played many, if not all of the documentary episodes that went along with the book, probably so he could sit in the corner and hide his boner (c'mon, the course was called "The Ascent of Man" fer chrissakes. It should have been called "The Life and Times of Jacob Bronowski Plus Some Stuff That Might Make You Ungrateful Wankers Appreciate Not Living in Mud Huts." T ...more
Mohammed Alsalik

يتحدث الكتاب عن التطور الحضاري للإنسان والذي بدأ كما يقول الكتاب منذ عشرة الآف سنة فقط والذي بدأ عندما اتخذ الانسان قراره بالتوقف عن الترحال والإستقرار في مدينة ..منذ ذلك الوقت فقط بدأت مسيرة الحضارة
أكبر خطوة في ارتقاء الإنسان تكمن في انتقاله من مرحلة البداوة الى المرحلة الزراعية وتأسيس القرية

ثم ينتقل للحديث عن تطور العلوم وتقدمها ويبدأ بالرياضيات التي يعتبرها أكثر العلوم دقة وأعمقها فكرا وينتقل بعده لعلم الفلك ويروي قصة العالم غاليليو وصراعه مع الكنيسة ومحكمة التفتيش ويروي تفاصيل محاكمته

كان من الممكن أن استمع إلى كلمات هذا الكتاب بينما أشاهد لقطات طبيعية أخّاذة، أو توثيق لحياة قبائل بدائية، أو أشاهد مواقع الحفريات والآثار، أو إعادة تمثيل لأحداث تاريخية مرّت ببعض العلماء، أو حتى محاكاة مجسمة لعمل الخلايا والجزئيات، فالكتاب في الأصل هو نَص تعليقات برنامج وثائقي اسمه ارتقاء الإنسان، أعدّه المؤلف وعُرف به، وأذاعته قناة البي بي سي الوثائقية، ثم لما مرّت سنة على انتهاء حلقات البرنامج، مات صاحبه!، أو كما يقتبسون من الإنجيل في صفحة وفيات الأهرام: فلما انقضت أيام خدمته انصرف إلى بيته

Daniel Gonçalves

Writing is a revitalizing experience. It changes your mind, and it turns your body into a magical soul. Although I don’t believe in spiritualisms, I am truly confident that the human condition is perpetuated by our own behaviours. In the end, it isn’t really important the way we lived, but why we lived. Did we populate the Earth to reproduce and eat, like 99 percent of all other species? Or were we born in order to shift the perspective of our universe? By reading the immensely significant writi
I assume you already know that this is a survey course of history. I read this book centuries ago -- perhaps in my 20s. I seem to recall that it (documentary and book) came out shortly before James Burke's "Connections", a similar series on the serendipitous advances in science. I know I was fascinated.

I would highly recommend The Ascent of Man to the bright young person with a curious turn of mind. History gets a bum rap (though I'm prejudiced) until one is reminded that it is woven, not drawn,
Todd Martin
This book is based on a television documentary series produced in 1973 by the BBC in association with Time-Life Films. The title alludes to The Descent of Man by Charles Darwin. The book traces the development of human society through its understanding of science.

The book is written in a rather odd and stilted style which I found completely bizarre at times. Here's an example:
"The role of women in nomad tribes is narrowly defined. Above all, the function of women is to produce men-children; too
Simon Mcleish
Originally published on my blog here in August 2001.

Like Kenneth Clarke's Civilisation, The Ascent of Man is a series looked up to by every producer of factual, educational TV programmes. It probably wouldn't get made today, as its broad canvas is not really fashionable, and it is not about ordinary people. Its subject is the history of science, far removed from the pseudo-anthropology of "Reality TV".

The arrangement of material is a little unusual; it is basically thematic, each chapter trackin
Paul Brogan
There are two things to remember about this book. First, it was published in 1973: it is surprising how, in the course of only 40 years, our knowledge of our evolutionary history has advanced. Second, it was originally a TV series made by the BBC, so the book is arranged into 13 essays, I assume based on the original episodes.

The book starts logically enough, at our roots in east Africa five million years ago. Bronowski doesn’t make nearly enough, however, of how touch-and-go it was, not only th
Excellent book about the story of mankind not too dissimilar from Jared diamonds guns germs and steel. the book starts off with the evolution of man from basic mini monkey types like the Limur (king Julian!) through to homo erectus, Neanderthal and finally homo sapien around 100,000 years ago. Then the book really begins by exploring a whole whose of subjects like: food, nomad cultures, structures and architecture, fire, metals, numbers, islam and the rise of Europe through the renaissance and t ...more
I really liked this book.
It's full of fascinating facts and stories from our past. It consists of many episodes but it is essentially one long story. It's our story. How did we, human beings, rise from the animal world and become what we are today.
I will always remember the story about the appearance of first hybrid wheat in the Middle East and raise of agricultural societies.
There is also a lot of interesting stories about scientists. I’ve heard about all of them but I found so many amazing de
Jul 03, 2010 Nick rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Patricia Edie
Finished after 3 weeks of slogging through it. I took that long, not because it isn't interesting, but because it is. With a book like this one I like to read and give thought and analysis what I have read. It is just the way my thinking works, I guess I'm not that "quick".
The Ascent of Man is our scientific development from the start using small ancient hand tools and the emergence of our humanity through the development of quantum physics, DNA, cognitive science, artificial intelligence. and b
Ahlam al-jurdi
الكتاب عندي 257 صفحة فقط ..
بعد أن انتهيت وذهلت أستطيع أن أقول أنه نسخة أصغر فلسفياً وشمولاً لكنها أمتع أدبياً من كتاب كيف تغير العالم لجيمس بيرك .. عرض المؤلف بتسلسل ذكي خطوات ارتقاء الإنسان منذ أصوله الأقل بيولوجياً حتى عصره هو .. عصر ثورة العلم وإنجازاته .. مر على مستعمرات الصيد وحضارات كانت عامرة كالإنكا والإغريق عرّج على ديار الإسلام .. ثم عصر النهضة تناول قفزاته المذهلة بتركيز أكثر. كان ممتعاً فعلاً حس الكاتب العلمي أولاً ثم الأدبي والفلسفي مزج باقتدار .. في النهاية توصل إلى ذات النتيجة "م
Dick Edwards
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
محمود أغيورلي
مقتطفات من كتاب التطور الحضاري للإنسان للكاتب جاكوب برونوفسكي

صنع الحب ويصنع اجمل ما في حياتنا .. ان الكتاب الذي تقرؤه - اي كتاب - ليقترب الى قلبك اذا ما احسست ان كاتبه يحب ما يكتب وستحس-مثلي - ان مؤلف هذا الكتاب عاشق .. عاشق للعلم , للأدب , للفن , عاشق للانسان . ستحس بنبض من العشق يتدفق في صفحات الكتاب يهزك وهو ينتثل بك عبر التاريخ الذهني للانسان . يقرأ الفرد منا الكتاب - أي كتاب , فتستوقفه جمل بعينها يؤشر عليها ربما كي يعود اليها مرة اخرى ويتأملها .. يقرأ الفرد منا أي كتاب فينساه
I must admit my scientific schooling ended at O level physics and chemistry some 30 years ago and there were times when the book (as an expanded script from the acclaimed television series) cried out for the visuals that would have accompanied it originally as an aid to my understanding.

What I appreciated most was Bronowski's placing of science at the heart of human history without dismissing art. Indeed he is very much at pains to acknowledge the special way that art and creativity interacts wi
Ian Brydon
The late 1960s and early 1970s saw the rise of the blockbuster documentary series, such as 'The World at War', with Laurence Olivier's chilling narration, 'Alistair Cooke's America' and 'Civilisation', presented by Lord Kenneth Clark (father of the scurrilous diarist, Alan Clark). Professor Jacob Bronowski, renowned principally as an academic mathematician, conceived his own series, 'The Ascent of Man' as a match for Clark's 'Civilisation', presenting the development of human understanding and a ...more
Mar 23, 2015 David rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: every educated and inquisitive person who can read English
I did not read this word for word, but it is an absorbing amazing creation and the sort of history which I find fascinating. The writing is clear, smooth, understandable, and clarified by many relevant illustrations. Over all this book (based on a BBC television series) is a product with long-lasting value and worthy of being studied and read now and again. Some parts have become out of date in the past forty years, yet that does not at all diminish its educational value today.

In the words of on
I never thought I would say this, but I'm in love with a tiny scientist who is, unfortunately, dead.
The Ascent of man is a compilation of Bronowski's essays on the evolution of man and science featured in his incredible BBC series of the same name. I watched the episodes at night and then re-read the essays on the following day for a complete immersion. The series came out in the early 70s but it still feels fresh.
If you're looking for a great history of science this is it! Bronowski's family
A thought-providing journey through the evolution and development of the human mind. Although completed before modern developments in genetics, physics, and chemistry, this insightful exploration of man's development touches on the essential aspects of human biology from the early developments in mathematics, astronomy, the scientific revolution, and more modern physics and the understanding of the human genome. I was fascinated how Bronoswski ties all of thee into the importance of the human mi ...more
Joan Colby
A marvelous study of man’s rise shown through the lens of scientific discoveries. Written for the intelligent layman, and the basis of the lauded TV series, this is an essential book for anyone interested in the evolution of science.
Hosam Diab
قرأته في طبعة سلسلة "عالم المعرفة" الكويتية، تحت عنوان ارتقاء الإنسان، ترجمة موفق شخاشيرو وترجمة زهير الكرمي. الكتاب غاية في الجمال والبساطة. رحلة في تاريخ العلوم متعرضاً لفلسفتها، مقترباً من الخط الفاصل الذي يميزنا كبشر عن سائر مخلوقات هذا الكون.
Ahmed Rashwan
Absolutely brilliant book!

It's amazing how smoothly this book carries you through its beautifully written chapters. Jacob Bronowski's fluidity gives you the feeling that you are having an intelluctual conversation with your professor rather than reading an informative book.

I cannot explain in words the beauty of being told the history of cultural evolution from not only a scientific point of view but a mesmerizing narrative and literary point of view like being told a bed time story.

Not a single
Lori Schafer
A fascinating series of essays on the development of humankind in both cultural and technological aspects, absolutely guaranteed to make you think about humanity's past and present in entirely new ways. It clearly does, however, hearken from an earlier era in which humanity was believed to be progressing towards something, an idea which nowadays is less commonly held. I personally was quite charmed by this very 70s sensibility - I almost felt myself being whisked back in time to my childhood of ...more
I read many years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. I remember being amazed. Would like to re-read it as I have changed alot in the past 40 yrs.
An amazing journey into the history and philosophy of science, in book and TV documentary by the BBC. Changed my life.
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Goodreads Librari...: Ascent of Man 2 35 Mar 30, 2012 10:31AM  
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Jacob Bronowski was a British mathematician and biologist of Polish-Jewish origin. He is best remembered as the presenter and writer of the 1973 BBC television documentary series, The Ascent of Man.

In 1950, Bronowski was given the Taung child's fossilized skull and asked to try, using his statistical skills, to combine a measure of the size of the skull's teeth with their shape in order to discrim
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“It is important that students bring a certain ragamuffin, barefoot irreverence to their studies; they are not here to worship what is known, but to question it.” 268 likes
“There is no absolute knowledge. And those who claim it, whether they are scientists or dogmatists, open the door to tragedy.” 18 likes
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