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March Book Club: "The World Until Yesterday" by Jared Diamond

In his new book The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn From Traditional Societies?, Pulitzer Prize-winner Jared Diamond provides an epic journey into our rapidly receding past, revealing how tribal societies offer an extraordinary window into how our ancestors lived for millions of years — until virtually yesterday, in evolutionary terms - and how they can provide unique, often overlooked insights into human nature.

Drawing on his own fieldwork spanning nearly five decades of working and living in New Guinea as well as evidence from Inuit, Amazonian Indians, Kalahari San people and other cultures, Diamond explores how tribal peoples approach essential human problems, from child rearing to old age to conflict resolution to health, and discovers that we have much to learn from these traditional ways of life.

As he reminds us, the West achieved global dominance due to specific environmental and technological advantages, but Westerners do not necessarily have superior ideas on how to raise children, care for the elderly, or simply live well. Join us as Dr. Diamond provides a mesmerizing firsthand picture of the human past that also suggests profound lessons for how we can live today.

About Jared Diamond

Jared Diamond is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the seminal Guns, Germs, and Steel, voted one of TIME magazine's top 100 nonfiction books of all time, and Collapse, a number one international bestseller. A professor of geography at UCLA and a noted polymath, Diamond's work has been influential in the fields of anthropology, biology, ornithology, ecology and history, among others.

Buy the book through our link to Amazon, and HFSD earns a percentage!

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  • Wilfredo P.

    You're welcome, Lorraine. It's always good to see you and Ray. Both of you have a wealth of knowledge and are excellent conversationalists. And I love your passion about separation of church and state and other issues important to secular humanists. I sure hope you two can make it down to San Diego before next winter! Take care.

    March 24, 2013

  • Lorraine I.

    Thanks, Wilfredo, for putting together some excellent meetings and great places to eat. Have enjoyed our winter here and will hopefully see you all again next winter! Lorraine and Ray

    March 23, 2013

  • Holly N.

    A fun time was had by all - thanks again Wilfredo for organizing it and picking a restaurant with vegetarian options.

    March 23, 2013

  • Wilfredo P.

    Another great book discussion! This was definitely an interesting book and the ideas put forth by Jared Diamond concerning traditional societies prompted a very thoughtful discussion. It was interesting to compare how WEIRD (Western, educated, industrialized, rich, democratic) societies compare to traditional ones in regards to child care, diet, treatment of the elderly, war and violence, communalism and other factors. The discussion was lively and the food at Hanna's Gourmet was terrific! Thanks to all who attended.

    March 23, 2013

  • Wilfredo P.

    Hi, Stephen. You may want to read a book that we discussed last year: "Don't Sleep, There Are Snakes: Life and Language in the Amazonian Jungle" by Daniel Everett. The author was a former Xtian missionary who tried to convert a remote and isolated Amazonian tribe to Christianity. He soon found out that members of this tribe were the happiest people he ever met, and they had no belief in gods. They eventually converted him to atheism! Here is the link for this excellent book:

    March 10, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    This is tentative, but I'm going to try.

    March 10, 2013

  • Wilfredo P.

    Here's something to think about and discuss. In this 1987 article for Discover magazine, Jared Diamond writes that the development of agriculture was "The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race."

    It is obvious that Dr. Diamond has been thinking about the ideas he writes about in "The World Until Yesterday" for many decades.

    January 27, 2013

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