Felix Dance's Reviews > Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence

Dragons of Eden by Carl Sagan
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's review
Jan 20, 2011

really liked it
Read in January, 2011

This book had been sitting on my bookshelf back at home, beckoning to me, for many decades. After listening to about three different podcasts going on about how great Carl Sagan in (yes, he is a Dude) and then finding this book (along with The Odyssey) at that Mumbai bookshop I could not resist. Also read during my long sea voyage I intersperced the chapters of this book with the audio book of Dawkins' Greatest Show On Earth (which I'd read and reviewed in paper form earlier). Since it came out in 1977 I basically discounted everything written in it as 'out-of-date', but it still came up with some interesting ideas. Basically the premise of the book is how our neo-cortex, the 'human' part of our brains, competes with the R-cortex, the reptillian part evolved hundreds of millions of years ago. There are some excellent anecodotes and factoids here but I found the book lacked a real focus or narrative - although maybe that's a result of my comparison of it with Dawkins' books. I'm a big fan of Sagan's ideas and it's written very well and was pretty enjoyable so I certainly can't critisise it too much - maybe my expectations were just set too high. I swapped this book, along with The Odyssey, with White Tiger and a book on Seneca left on the cargo ship by two disembarking cycle tourists.

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