The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies?
(Penguin Books • paperback• $18)
Jared Diamond, the Pulitzer-winning author of Guns, Germs, and Steel, first traveled to Papua New Guinea in 1964, returning frequently over the next 48 years. His new book teems with examples and anecdotes of traditional life from the Pacific Islands—not just because of his own familiarity, he insists, but “because New Guinea really does contribute to a disproportionate fraction of human cultural diversity” with approximately 1,000 of the world’s 7,000 spoken languages and a high proportion of traditional lifestyles uninfluenced by modern states. The World Until Yesterday poses questions about the differences between such traditional societies and our own, attempting to tease out the advantages and disadvantages inherent in each. Diamond has taken some heat for portraying traditional societies as warlike, but contends that he merely presents facts without any varnish of “noble savage” paternalism. Hear for yourself when Diamond comes to Albuquerque Academy’s Simms Auditorium (6400 Wyoming NE) this Monday, Nov. 4, at 7pm. His talk, one of only a handful of national appearances to promote the paperback release, is cosponsored by popular children’s bookstore Alamosa Books, which has lately begun dipping its toe into the grownup lit pond. The event is “booketed,” meaning a purchase of one book from Alamosa admits two. For more details, or to secure your spot, head to alamosabooks.com/