authors | January 21, 2013

Scientific American: New Book By Jared Diamond Is A "Blockbuster" Success

Michael Shermer, a columnist for Scientific American, calls Jared Diamond’s new book a "magnificent concluding opus on not only our nature and our history, but our destiny as a species." He also says that the book, titled The World Until Yesterday, is an apt successor to his Pulitzer Prize-Winning Guns, Germs and Steel. Professor John Horgan, who also writes for Scientific American, has high praise for Diamond's new book as well. Most of us would say that we prefer living in a modern, industrialized society as opposed to what Diamond calls "traditional societies". But Horgan says that "the kneejerk preference for modern based in part on ignorance of alternatives. And that’s why I'm thrilled by The World Until Yesterday." In Diamond's latest endeavor, he documents the way people live in traditional societies, such as many of the isolated societies of New Guinea—providing insight into alternative ways of life to our own.

In a two-part review, Horgan explains that the triumph in Diamond's writing stems from his ability to explore a wildly broad and ambitious topic and spark a discussion about it. "Diamond is a treasure," he writes, "one of those rare scientists who knows how to write about big, topical issues for a popular audience while maintaining rigorous scholarly standards." He also says that he is urging all of his students at the Stevens Institute of Technology to read Diamond's newest "blockbuster." "His goal," Horgan says of Diamond, "is not to solve all of our enormous social problems but to draw our attention to them and challenge us to find better solutions. He succeeds."

The World Until Yesterday debuted in the top three of the New York Times bestseller list. It teaches us that despite living in such a technologically advanced, modern society—there are still things we can learn from our more traditional counterparts. In his keynotes, Diamond discusses these lessons using case studies from his field work on the tribes in New Guinea. He is also well-versed in issues surrounding globalization, human rights, and the future of human society.