WHAT HAVE WE BEEN DOING FOR THE LAST 50,000 YEARS?

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AUTHOR TAMIM ANSARY

51JhkSaeNSL._AC_UY218_ML3_I’m going to have to read this one again to come close to absorbing it all. As you might expect from a volume that takes on the Sisiphyan task of investigating 50,000 years of us, The Invention of Yesterday is loaded with facts wrapped up in fascinating tales and concepts. However, you wouldn’t expect it all to be presented entertainingly in colloquial prose. Ansary was born and raised in Afghanistan and has lives in San Francisco, which background gives him a perspective we westerners seldom encounter. What were the “saracens” doing in the centuries when western civilization was exploring and exploding. What were westerners doing during the centuries when Islam was was producing culture and literature and adding millions to its ranks? Oh, and what about China? Or all the herders and hunters in the Mongolian steppes. And, finally, what did the great wall of China have to do with the Boston Tea Party? Every page you turn you encounter answers to questions you’ve wondered about as well as answers to questions , such as the Tea Party one, you didn’t know to ask. What a marvelously rich work this is. You may think you don’t like history. Maybe not. But everyone loves a good story, and The Invention of Yesterday is full of them as Ansary explores the rise and fall of empires and villages and cultures. It’s as if Shaherezad is trying to keep you entertained for the entire 1001 nights. And succeeding. Lay your hands upon this book and your life will be richer for it. [By the way, speaking of watching cultures come and go, Charles C Mann’s 1493 would make an excellent companion piece to The Invention of Yesterday.

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