The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies?
by Jared Diamond
Published in 2013 by Penguin, 512 pages
This New York Times bestseller by Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Jared Diamond fluently describes the many areas of modern life that could benefit from the ancient practices and viewpoints of traditional tribes and cultures. Oftentimes, their behaviors and perspectives are discounted in the modern age as being somewhat old-fashioned and out of touch, but nothing could be further from the truth. We have a lot to learn from groups like the Xingu Indians in Brazil, the !Kung tribe of Africa, the Kalahari San people and the New Guinea Highlanders.
In fact, it was just yesterday in the grand scheme of the universe that we were all living in a much different environment. Today’s humans still possess bodies and temperaments better suited to the hunter-gatherer lifestyle than to modern circumstances. Traditional societies may possess more effective ways of raising families, resolving disputes, looking after their elders and healing their bodies. As we know from our own participation in the Firefly Gathering, much can be learned from the ancient ways. Part of the Firefly experience is to learn about, preserve, and communicate this ancient wisdom among ourselves but perhaps the larger responsibility is to pass the skills and wisdom to the larger community, especially through our children for the sake of future generations. Jared Diamond’s well-researched, meticulously presented and mesmerizing tome is a good addition to any modern abo’s library. At 512 pages, it’s certainly one to keep you busy reading through the long, cold winter nights ahead.