A while back I promoted Joe Henrich’s The Secret of Our Success: How Culture Is Driving Human Evolution, Domesticating Our Species, and Making Us Smarter. I did finish Frank McLynn’s Genghis Khan book, and am re-reading his Marcus Aurelius biography. There will be a review of the first book coming out soon, but I will tease here that unlike Tyler Cowen I don’t think it would come close to being the best book of the year (in part, because unlike many readers I know a fair amount about the topic). I also have a copy of Mary Beard’s SPQR: A History of Rome, and someday really need to get to Dehaene’s Consciousness and the Brain: Deciphering How the Brain Codes Our Thoughts
But here’s another must read, Peter Turchin’s Ultrasociety: How 10,000 Years of War Made Humans the Greatest Cooperators on Earth. This seems like an excellent complement to Ian Morris’ War! What Is It Good For?: Conflict and the Progress of Civilization from Primates to Robots, which I have not managed to get to read, in part because I want to hit Foragers, Farmers, and Fossil Fuels: How Human Values Evolve. Yet I’ve read a fair number of Peter’s books (see my 10 questions for him), so I’ll probably be moving this up the stack.
Peter is a serious thinker, and human social complexity and cooperation is an important, and unresolved topic (I am not as sanguine or flip on this David Sloan Wilson). Currently only the Kindle edition is available, but Peter says that the “dead-tree” version should be available in the next few days.
(note, I have to read The Hive Mind!)
Addendum: Here’s Peter’s post on the book….