The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn From Traditional Societies?
By Jared Diamond
Viking, 2012. 499 pgs. Nonfiction
In his previous bestsellers (Guns, Germs, and Steel and Collapse), Jared Diamond has discussed his theories on why some cultures modernized more quickly than others. In The World Until Yesterday he takes a much more personal tone, describing what he has learned from those people of the world who have remained untouched by the rise of modern societies.
Having spent decades living with and studying traditional cultures in places like Papua New Guinea, the Amazon, and Kalahari, Diamond has vast catalog of personal experiences to draw upon. He provides descriptions of how these primitive peoples deal with each other, strangers, conflict, child-rearing, the elderly, danger, religion, language, health, and death.
I have truly enjoyed Jared Diamond’s previous works and I enjoyed a great deal of this one. The first-hand accounts were by far the best parts and overshadowed some of the more dry portions of the book.