Monday, January 21, 2013

Title: The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies?
Author: Jared Diamond
Genre: non-fiction, anthropology

A wonderful book for a wannabe anthropologist like me...

So you maybe wondering, what is a traditional society? A traditional society is a small group of people that are hunter-gatherers (they forage for and hunt their food) that have no centralized state government. Their group is so small that a "government/bureaucratic" decision can be reached very quickly. America, on the other hand, is a modern, industrialized society: we "forage" and "hunt" our food in a supermarket. most of our jobs are sedentary and technology driven, and our "group" is so large that we need to elect bureaucrats to represent us in our centralized government.

Jared Diamond compares major aspects of life in the industrialized West versus the few, surviving traditional societies that can still be found in the Amazon, Australia, Africa and Papua New Guinea. Topics covered are distinguishing between friend and enemies, trade, war, death, child rearing, treatment of the elderly, danger, religion, language and diet. Diamond compares and contrasts the advantages and disadvantages of traditional and modern societies and encourages the citizens of modern societies to adopt certain traditional practices (certain aspects of child rearing, diet, and multilingualism). A recommended read for anyone who wants to expand their view of the world and learn about different cultures.

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