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Civilized to Death: The Price of Progress

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4.13  ·  Rating details ·  52 ratings  ·  10 reviews
Progress, the basic illusion of our age, is exhausted. Kids typically no longer expect their lives to be better than their parents’ were. Dystopian scenarios loom ever larger in public consciousness as fisheries collapse, CO2 levels rise, and clouds of radioactive steam billow from “fail-safe” nuclear plants that failed. Despite the technological marvels of our age—or perh ...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published October 1st 2019 by Simon & Schuster (first published January 1st 2018)
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Bremer
Oct 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“An era can be considered over when its basic illusions have been exhausted.”

— Arthur Miller

Modern civilization is seen as necessary for “progress.” With every breakthrough in technology, science, medicine, and so on, with every new comfort and convenience, advancement and novelty, what is the cost?

People often assume that progress is steadily increasing, and at a linear pace, believing that the livelihoods of the hunter-gatherers were primitive, dangerous, an
...more
Nina
Oct 06, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’m conflicted about this one. It was a fun read and the “Narrative of Perpetual Progress” definitely deserves the type of debunking the author is attempting. The lives of our hunter/gatherer forbears were not as nasty, brutish, or short as the proponents of the myth of progress would have us all believe. However, their lifestyles were not as idyllic, peaceful, and sustainable as the author would have us believe either. He rightly takes scientists like Steven Pinker to task for cherrypicking dat ...more
Ietrio
Oct 16, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: junk
An intellectually dubious argument for taking life like a buffet: Ryan would take some of the 21st century, and from the 20th century plate and mostly from a fairy tale that exists only in his mind.
Priyaranjan Padhi
Oct 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like the authenticity of the author.I listen to his podcast (Tangentially speaking) more often than not and share the same concerns and similar critiques. The point of divergence is the nihilistic undertone and that of impending doom in the form of large scale climate crisis that the author tends to take for granted. The future may pan out this way and we might be completely helpless but firmly believing it to be the case wont help us in whatever efforts we may be capable of mustering collecti ...more
Philip
Oct 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just finished my advance readers copy. Waited a long time for this one to finally be released. The wait was worth it. I also recommend The New Human Rights Movement by Peter Joseph and The Spell of The Sensuous by David Abram if you enjoyed this book. I love books that turn my conventional ways of thinking upside down in ways that make sense
Vetis
Jul 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been waiting for this since 2014 when I first read Sex at Dawn. Chris has been talking about this book on the podcast since then. If you're a fan of the podcast, much of the material here will be familiar. many of the same references, stories and points are repeated.
Chris isn't saying anything new here, so much as saying it in an entertaining way that is still well researched. If you have read the works of Marshall Sahlins, Jared Diamond and Frans De Waal there is nothing new to learn
...more
Timo
Oct 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Author Christopher Ryan has provided a clear and compelling argument against what he calls the Narrative of Perpetual Progress, or NPP.

In 2016, I dropped away from traditional life, leaving Seattle, WA to wander Mexico and Central America. It was due to many of the ailments listed in this book that I found life in Seattle so intolerable; but I wasn't ready to face the idea that Modern Life wasn't great. It took awhile for that realization to set in.

I was raised in a funda
...more
Judith
Oct 02, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I read about 10% of the book. I agree with Ryan that if we started as a “wolf pack” then we are mostly poodles and pigs, and we need to look at and provide for our psychological needs in light of our origins as foragers. But I won’t get my desire for confirmation fulfilled by this book. He seems to not understand natural selection, and he lacks precision and science when considering human evolution and the human condition. There are many better popular science books out there. Start with De Waal ...more
Mike
Oct 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Five stars because this is a real mind rattler. Imagine...we were better off when we were all hunter gatherers or as Ryan calls us foragers. Sure, the whole premise may be arrant nonsense but he sure makes a good case and I found myself nodding in agreement on many occasions. This book is certainly worth the read at least once and maybe twice.
Joseph Chopik
Oct 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I waited a long time for this book to come out and the wait was worth it. Anyone who listens to the podcast will read familiar stories and feel they know what's coming. This does not take away from the read at all. Deep down we all know there is something wrong with civilization. Everyone should read this book at least once.
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