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Jared Diamond

Jared Diamond on what we can learn from traditional societies.

The Basarwa are the last of the original inhabitants of a vast area stretching from the tip of South Africa to the Zambezi valley in Zambia and Zimbabwe. Their rock paintings, wildlife knowledge and ability to survive in one of the harshest environments on earth have fascinated scholars. (AP)

The Basarwa are the last of the original inhabitants of a vast area stretching from the tip of South Africa to the Zambezi valley in Zambia and Zimbabwe. Their rock paintings, wildlife knowledge and ability to survive in one of the harshest environments on earth have fascinated scholars. (AP)

Pulitzer Prize-winning geographer Jared Diamond got the world’s attention and made us think big with “Guns, Germs, and Steel,” his blockbuster book on the fate of nations.  Now he’s out with another big take on how humans live and die.

For six million years, we were hunters and gathers and herders.  “Primitives,” we used to say.  A very few still are.  Traditional societies of loin cloth and spear, outside modernity.

What can we learn from them, on life and survival?

This hour, On Point:  Jared Diamond on life lessons for us – for you – now from the world’s oldest, close-to-the-earth cultures.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Jared Diamond, professor of geography at the University of California- Los Angeles. A Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the Guns, Germs, and Steel, his new book is The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies?

From Tom’s Reading List

Newsweek “On one of my visits 
to New Guinea, I met a young man named Enu, whose life story struck me then as remarkable. Enu had grown up in an area where child-rearing was extremely repressive, and where children were heavily burdened by obligations and by feelings of guilt. By the time he was 5 years old, Enu decided that he had had enough of that lifestyle. He left his parents and most of his relatives and moved to another tribe and village, where he had relatives willing to take care of him. There, Enu found himself in an adoptive society with laissez-faire child-rearing practices at the opposite extreme from his natal society’s practices.”

Smithsonian “The author of the prize-winning Guns, Germs, and Steel is no stranger to sweeping assessments. Jared Diamond’s new book, The World Until Yesterday, is a macro examination of what Western, educated, industrialized, rich, democratic societies (WEIRD is Diamond’s handy, oft-repeated acronym) lack compared with traditional societies. His argument is presented as a series of studies grouped around themes—child care or diet, for example.”

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