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A Foot in the River

3.05  ·  Rating details ·  39 ratings  ·  8 reviews
We are a weird species. Like other species, we have a culture. But by comparison with other species, we are strangely unstable: human cultures self-transform, diverge, and multiply with bewildering speed. They vary, radically and rapidly, from time to time and place to place. And the way we live - our manners, morals, habits, experiences, relationships, technology, values ...more
Hardcover, 303 pages
Published December 1st 2015 by Oxford University Press
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Average rating 3.05  · 
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 ·  39 ratings  ·  8 reviews

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Richard Thompson
Feb 04, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: philosophy
This is a physically beautiful book. Anyone who reads it as an ebook is short changing himself. It has a beautiful dust jacket and uses a good typeface on top quality paper. I would throw away my Kindle if all books could be this nice. The quality of the book enhanced my anticipation and my reading experience. I was also drawn in by the title -- a reference to Heraclitus -- and by the promise that the book would provide a more complete theory of cultural change than can be derived from the ...more
Dan Jones
Nov 21, 2018 rated it liked it
I'm not so convinced that any characteristics within the realm of human invention are really without function, before or after the bottleneck of technological ideas (which are evolutionary forces that emanate from culture) in spite of what he argues. I think everything we do has purpose, sometimes it's not so obvious. A ritual you might see as useless often contains symbolic lessons for a community. Flamboyant clothing that one might think of as random is going to deal with mate selection or ...more
Chandy John
This is an excruciatingly boring book. Meant exclusively for academics.
Feb 28, 2018 rated it did not like it
I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a fair review.

I always hate DNFing ARCs, but this book was just so boring I couldn't get through it. And believe me I tried really hard to like it. I've tried to read this book off and on for probably a year or more. I can't even remember now. I kept thinking maybe I just wasn't in the mood for non-fiction, or maybe I just had to start over and reread the beginning again. Nope. I just couldn't get into this book. The synopsis sounds
Feb 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Professor at Notre Dame, advisor to the Vatican makes the case for the power of positive thinking, that our lives and our culture change because of the real power of human imagination.

Big insight is that it's a big, big mistake to assume that change in human lives and in human culture is evolutionary, that good ideas defeat bad ideas automatically, with no human decision. Imagination without discernment is not necessarily leading us towards a better world.

The currently popular concept "memes" is
Nov 14, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: amazon-reviewed
A Foot in the River by Felipe Fernandez-Armesto is a free NetGalley ebook that I read during a dull spot of pub trivia on a Wednesday in mid-November. I can't quite say as to what triggered my yen for this book, but it certainly garnered my attention.

Immensely scientific and anthropological while also maintaining a first-person, incredulous, and celebratory tone.
Jun 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very academically written book in terms of its structure. His hypothesis is answered in one of the latter chapters and it was a long drive to get there. But lots valuable ideas and facts throughout that make it worth reading on.
Oct 25, 2015 rated it did not like it
Complete review at

I didn't like this book, I think the author doesn't argue enough his points of view.
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Born in 1950, Felipe Fernández-Armesto was raised in London by his Spanish born father and British born mother both active journalists. As a historian, he has written numerous books on a variety of subject from American History to the Spanish Armada. He currently serves as the Principe de Asturias Chair in Spanish Culture and Civilization at Tufts University and Professor of Global Environmental ...more