The World Until Yesterday by Jared Diamond

The World Until Yesterday (2012) is a visionary new account of humanity’s past from Jared Diamond (, author of the international bestsellers Collapse (2005) and Guns, Germs and Steel (1997), which have sold over 1 million copies and won the Pulitzer Prize. Indeed, anything by Diamond is worth reading and this is no exception.

In The World Until Yesterday, Diamond reveals how tribal societies offer an extraordinary window into how our ancestors lived for millions of years – until virtually yesterday, in evolutionary terms – and provide unique, often overlooked insights into human nature. In his most personal book to date, the author writes about his experiences over nearly five decades working and living in New Guinea, an island that is home to one thousand of the world’s 7,000 languages and one of the most culturally diverse places on earth. Drawing on his own fieldwork, as well as evidence from Inuit, Amazonian Indians and other cultures, Diamond explores how tribal peoples approach essential human problems, from childrearing to old age to conflict resolution to health. He unearths remarkable findings – from the reasons why modern afflictions like diabetes, obesity and hypertension are largely non-existent in tribal societies, to the surprising cognitive benefits of multilingualism. As Diamond reminds us, the West achieved global dominance due to specific environmental and technological advantages, but Westerners do not necessarily have superior ideas about how to live well.

512 pages in Penguin paperback edition

ISBN 978-0141024486

Jared Diamond

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