Andrew's Reviews > The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies?

The World Until Yesterday by Jared Diamond
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Dec 09, 12

Read in December, 2012

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. This is the most personal of Diamond's books, with many anecdotes from his work in New Guinea. It reads like the book he's always wanted to write. 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. I found the beginning, where Diamond compares and contrasts traditional and modern societies, especially with reference to the execution of justice, forced. 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. Diamond effortlessly discusses, among other things, childhood, safety, religion, and language, describing how every society's structures are responses to particular contexts. He ends with observations about the fate of traditional societies today which points to where we ourselves may be heading. The World Until Yesterday is the natural extension of Guns, Germs, and Steel and Collapse as a masterly commentary on humanity and society.

I'm on Twitter: @Dr_A_Taubman
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