The Best Anthropology eBooks




The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human
by Jonathan Gottschall
The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human

Humans live in landscapes of make-believe. We spin fantasies. We devour novels, films, and plays. Even sporting events and criminal trials unfold as narratives. Yet the world of story has long remained an undiscovered and unmapped country. It’s easy to say that humans are “wired” for story, but why?

In this delightful and original book, Jonathan Gottschall offers the first unified theory of storytelling. He argues that stories help us navigate life’s complex social problems — just as flight simulators prepare pilots for difficult situations. Storytelling has evolved, like other behaviors, to ensure our survival.

Drawing on the latest research in neuroscience, psychology, and evolutionary biology, Gottschall tells us what it means to be a storytelling animal. Did you know that the more absorbed you are in a story, the more it changes your behavior? That all children act out the same kinds of stories, whether they grow up in a slum or a suburb? That people who read more fiction are more empathetic?

Of course, our story instinct has a darker side. It makes us vulnerable to conspiracy theories, advertisements, and narratives about ourselves that are more “truthy” than true. National myths can also be terribly dangerous: Hitler’s ambitions were partly fueled by a story.

But as Gottschall shows in this remarkable book, stories can also change the world for the better. Most successful stories are moral — they teach us how to live, whether explicitly or implicitly, and bind us together around common values. We know we are master shapers of story. The Storytelling Animal finally reveals how stories shape us.


 



The Social Conquest of Earth
by Edward O. Wilson
The Social Conquest of Earth

Where did we come from? What are we? Where are we going? In a generational work of clarity and passion, one of our greatest living scientists directly addresses these three fundamental questions of religion, philosophy, and science while “overturning the famous theory that evolution naturally encourages creatures to put family first” (Discover magazine). Refashioning the story of human evolution in a work that is certain to generate headlines, Wilson draws on his remarkable knowledge of biology and social behavior to show that group selection, not kin selection, is the primary driving force of human evolution. He proves that history makes no sense without prehistory, and prehistory makes no sense without biology. Demonstrating that the sources of morality, religion, and the creative arts are fundamentally biological in nature, Wilson presents us with the clearest explanation ever produced as to the origin of the human condition and why it resulted in our domination of the Earth’s biosphere.


 



Trace Evidence: A Virals Short Story Collection
by Kathy Reichs, Brendan Reichs
Trace Evidence: A Virals Short Story Collection

A collection of four short stories based on the Virals series from New York Times bestselling authors, Kathy Reichs and Brendan Reichs!

Fans of the Virals series will be thrilled with this companion volume that includes three short stories originally published as eSpecials as well as an all-new, never-before-seen Virals adventure! Shift,  Swipe,  Shock and the new story Spike give further glimpses of the Virals' world as they work with Tory's famous great aunt, Temperance Brennan, to solve more mysteries, take look at where it all started before they became Virals, and get to the bottom of an attempted sabatoge at Kit and Whitney's wedding.


 



The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined
by Steven Pinker
The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined

Selected by The New York Times Book Review as a Notable Book of the Year The author of The New York Times bestseller The Stuff of Thought offers a controversial history of violence.

Faced with the ceaseless stream of news about war, crime, and terrorism, one could easily think we live in the most violent age ever seen. Yet as New York Times bestselling author Steven Pinker shows in this startling and engaging new work, just the opposite is true: violence has been diminishing for millennia and we may be living in the most peaceful time in our species's existence. For most of history, war, slavery, infanticide, child abuse, assassinations, pogroms, gruesome punishments, deadly quarrels, and genocide were ordinary features of life. But today, Pinker shows (with the help of more than a hundred graphs and maps) all these forms of violence have dwindled and are widely condemned. How has this happened?

This groundbreaking book continues Pinker's exploration of the essence of human nature, mixing psychology and history to provide a remarkable picture of an increasingly nonviolent world. The key, he explains, is to understand our intrinsic motives- the inner demons that incline us toward violence and the better angels that steer us away-and how changing circumstances have allowed our better angels to prevail. Exploding fatalist myths about humankind's inherent violence and the curse of modernity, this ambitious and provocative book is sure to be hotly debated in living rooms and the Pentagon alike, and will challenge and change the way we think about our society.


 



1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created
by Charles C. Mann
1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created

Over 200 million years ago, geological forces split apart the continents. They developed different suites of flora & fauna. When Columbus came to the Americas, he ended that separation. Driven by the goal of establishing trade with China, he accidentally set off an ecological convulsion as European vessels carried thousands of species to new environs.

The Columbian Exchange, as researchers call it, is why there are tomatoes in Italy, oranges in Florida, chocolates in Switzerland & chili peppers in Thailand. More important, creatures colonists knew nothing about hitched along. Earthworms, mosquitoes & cockroaches; honeybees, dandelions & African grasses; bacteria, fungi & viruses; rats of every description — all rushed like eager tourists into lands that had never seen their like, changing lives & landscapes.

Eight decades later, a Spaniard named Legazpi succeeded where Columbus had failed. He sailed west to establish continual trade with China, then the richest, most powerful country. In Manila, a city Legazpi founded, American silver, mined by African & Indian slaves, was sold to Asians in return for silk for Europeans. It was the 1st time that goods & people from every part of the globe were connected in a single worldwide exchange. Much as Columbus created a new world biologically, Legazpi & Spain created a new world economically.

The Columbian Exchange underlies much of subsequent history. Presenting the latest research by ecologists, anthropologists, archaeologists & historians, Mann shows how the creation of this worldwide network of ecological & economic exchange fostered the rise of Europe, devastated China, convulsed Africa & for two centuries made Mexico City-where Asia, Europe & the new frontier of the Americas interacted-the center of the world. In such encounters, he uncovers the germ of today’s political disputes, from immigration to trade policy to culture wars.


 



Debt: The First 5,000 Years
by David Graeber
Debt: The First 5,000 Years

Before there was money, there was debt

Every economics textbook says the same thing: Money was invented to replace onerous and complicated barter systems — to relieve ancient people from having to haul their goods to market. The problem with this version of history? There’s not a shred of evidence to support it.

Here anthropologist David Graeber presents a stunning reversal of conventional wisdom. He shows that for more than 5, 000 years, since the beginnings of the first agrarian empires, humans have used elaborate credit systems to buy and sell goods — that is, long before the invention of coins or cash. It is in this era, Graeber argues, that we also first encounter a society divided into debtors and creditors.

Graeber shows that arguments about debt and debt forgiveness have been at the center of political debates from Italy to China, as well as sparking innumerable insurrections. He also brilliantly demonstrates that the language of the ancient works of law and religion (words like “guilt,” “sin,” and “redemption”) derive in large part from ancient debates about debt, and shape even our most basic ideas of right and wrong. We are still fighting these battles today without knowing it.

Debt: The First 5, 000 Years is a fascinating chronicle of this little known history — as well as how it has defined human history, and what it means for the credit crisis of the present day and the future of our economy.


 



The Power of Myth
by Joseph Campbell, Bill Moyers
The Power of Myth

Campbell's most impressive gift was his ability to take a contemporary situation, such as the murder & funeral of President John F. Kennedy, & help us understand its impact in the context of ancient mythology. Herein lies the power of The Power of Myth, showing how humans are apt to create & live out the themes of mythology. Based on a six-part PBS tv series hosted by Bill Moyers, this classic is especially compelling because of its engaging question-&-answer format, creating an easy, conversational approach to complicated & esoteric topics. For example, when discussing the mythology of heroes, Campbell & Moyers smoothly segue from the Sumerian sky goddess Inanna to Star Wars' mercenary-turned-hero, Han Solo. Most impressive is his encyclopedic knowledge of myths, demonstrated in his ability to recall the details & archetypes of almost any story, from any point of history, & translate it into a lesson for spiritual living in the here & now. -Gail Hudson (edited)
Editor's Note
Introduction-Moyers
Myth & the modern world
The journey inward
The first storytellers
Sacrifice & bliss
The hero's adventure
The gift of the goddess
Tales of love & marriage
Masks of eternity
Index
Photo Credits


 



The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution
by Francis Fukuyama
The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution

Virtually all human societies were once organized tribally, yet over time most developed new political institutions which included a central state that could keep the peace and uniform laws that applied to all citizens. Some went on to create governments that were accountable to their constituents. We take these institutions for granted, but they are absent or are unable to perform in many of today’s developing countries — with often disastrous consequences for the rest of the world.

Francis Fukuyama, author of the bestselling The End of History and the Last Man and one of our most important political thinkers,  provides a sweeping account of how today’s basic political institutions developed. The first of a major two-volume work, The Origins of Political Order begins with politics among our primate ancestors and follows the story through the emergence of tribal societies, the growth of the first modern state in China, the beginning of the rule of law in India and the Middle East, and the development of political accountability in Europe up until the eve of the French Revolution.

Drawing on a vast body of knowledge — history, evolutionary biology, archaeology, and economics — Fukuyama has produced a brilliant, provocative work that offers fresh insights on the origins of democratic societies and raises essential questions about the nature of politics and its discontents.


 



The Most Human Human: What Talking with Computers Teaches Us About What It Means to Be Alive
by Brian Christian
The Most Human Human: What Talking with Computers Teaches Us About What It Means to Be Alive

The Most Human Human is a provocative, exuberant, and profound exploration of the ways in which computers are reshaping our ideas of what it means to be human. Its starting point is the annual Turing Test, which pits artificial intelligence programs against people to determine if computers can “think.”

Named for computer pioneer Alan Turing, the Tur­ing Test convenes a panel of judges who pose questions — ranging anywhere from celebrity gossip to moral conundrums — to hidden contestants in an attempt to discern which is human and which is a computer. The machine that most often fools the panel wins the Most Human Computer Award. But there is also a prize, bizarre and intriguing, for the Most Human Human.

In 2008, the top AI program came short of passing the Turing Test by just one astonishing vote. In 2009, Brian Christian was chosen to participate, and he set out to make sure Homo sapiens would prevail.

The author’s quest to be deemed more human than a com­puter opens a window onto our own nature. Interweaving modern phenomena like customer service “chatbots” and men using programmed dialogue to pick up women in bars with insights from fields as diverse as chess, psychiatry, and the law, Brian Christian examines the philosophical, bio­logical, and moral issues raised by the Turing Test.

One central definition of human has been “a being that could reason.” If computers can reason, what does that mean for the special place we reserve for humanity?


 



Video Night in Kathmandu and Other Reports from the Not-So-Far East
by Pico Iyer, Robin Desser
Video Night in Kathmandu and Other Reports from the Not-So-Far East
Sorry, no description about this book. :(

 



The Moral Animal: Why We Are the Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology
by Robert Wright
The Moral Animal: Why We Are the Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology

Are men literally born to cheat? Does monogamy actually serve women's interests? These are among the questions that have made The Moral Animal one of the most provocative science books in recent years. Wright unveils the genetic strategies behind everything from our sexual preferences to our office politics-as well as their implications for our moral codes and public policies. Illustrations.


 



Guests of the Sheik: An Ethnography of an Iraqi Village
by Elizabeth Warnock Fernea
Guests of the Sheik: An Ethnography of an Iraqi Village
Sorry, no description about this book. :(

 



A History Of The World In 100 Objects
by Neil MacGregor
A History Of The World In 100 Objects

Neil MacGregor's A History of the World in 100 Objects takes a bold, original approach to human history, exploring past civilizations through the objects that defined them. Encompassing a grand sweep of human history, A History of the World in 100 Objects begins with one of the earliest surviving objects made by human hands, a chopping tool from the Olduvai gorge in Africa, and ends with objects which characterise the world we live in today. Seen through MacGregor's eyes, history is a kaleidoscope — shifting, interconnected, constantly surprising, and shaping our world today in ways that most of us have never imagined. A stone pillar tells us about a great Indian emperor preaching tolerance to his people; Spanish pieces of eight tell us about the beginning of a global currency; and an early Victorian tea-set speaks to us about the impact of empire. An intellectual and visual feast, this is one of the most engrossing and unusual history books published in years. 'Brilliant, engagingly written, deeply researched'
  Mary Beard, Guardian 'A triumph: hugely popular, and rightly lauded as one of the most effective and intellectually ambitious initiatives in the making of 'public history' for many decades'
  Sunday Telegraph 'Highly intelligent, delightfully written and utterly absorbing '
  Timothy Clifford, Spectator 'This is a story book, vivid and witty, shining with insights, connections, shocks and delights'
  Gillian Reynolds Daily Telegraph Neil MacGregor has been Director of the British Museum since August 2002. His latest book, Shakespeare's Restless World is an enthralling exploration of Shakespeare's world, and of the minds of his audiences, based on Neil MacGregor's new 20-part BBC Radio 4 series. MacGregor was previously Director of the National Gallery in London from 1987 to 2002.


 



The Serpent and the Rainbow
by Wade Davis
The Serpent and the Rainbow

A scientific investigation and personal adventure story about zombis and the voudoun culture of Haiti by a Harvard scientist.

In April 1982, ethnobotanist Wade Davis arrived in Haiti to investigate two documented cases of zombis — people who had reappeared in Haitian society years after they had been officially declared dead and had been buried. Drawn into a netherworld of rituals and celebrations, Davis penetrated the vodoun mystique deeply enough to place zombification in its proper context within vodoun culture. In the course of his investigation, Davis came to realize that the story of vodoun is the history of Haiti — from the African origins of its people to the successful Haitian independence movement, down to the present day, where vodoun culture is, in effect, the government of Haiti’s countryside.

The Serpent and the Rainbow combines anthropological investigation with a remarkable personal adventure to illuminate and finally explain a phenomenon that has long fascinated Americans.


 



Dead Men Do Tell Tales: The Strange and Fascinating Cases of a Forensic Anthropologist
by William R. Maples, Michael Browning
Dead Men Do Tell Tales: The Strange and Fascinating Cases of a Forensic Anthropologist

From a skeleton, a skull, a mere fragment of burnt thighbone, Dr. William Maples can deduce the age, gender, and ethnicity of a murder victim, the manner in which the person was dispatched, and, ultimately, the identity of the killer.   In Dead Men Do Tell Tales, Dr. Maples revisits his strangest, most interesting, and most horrific investigations, from the baffling cases of conquistador Francisco Pizarro and Vietnam MIAs to the mysterious deaths of President Zachary Taylor and the family of Czar Nicholas II.


 



Spider Bones
by Kathy Reichs
Spider Bones

Kathy Reichs — #1 New York Times bestselling author and producer of the FOX television hit Bones — returns with the thirteenth riveting novel featuring forensic anthropologist Dr. Temperance Brennan.

John Lowery was declared dead in 1968 — the victim of a Huey crash in Vietnam, his body buried long ago in North Carolina. Four decades later, Temperance Brennan is called to the scene of a drowning in Hemmingford, Quebec. The victim appears to have died while in the midst of a bizarre sexual practice. The corpse is later identified as John Lowery. But how could Lowery have died twice, and how did an American soldier end up in Canada?

Tempe sets off for the answer, exhuming Lowery’s grave in North Carolina and taking the remains to Hawaii for reanalysis — to the headquarters of JPAC, the U. S. military’s Joint POW/ MIA Accounting Command, which strives to recover Americans who have died in past conflicts. In Hawaii, Tempe is joined by her colleague and ex-lover Detective Andrew Ryan (how “ex” is he?) and by her daughter, who is recovering from her own tragic loss. Soon another set of remains is located, with Lowery’s dog tags tangled among them. Three bodies — all identified as Lowery.

And then Tempe is contacted by Hadley Perry, Honolulu’s flamboyant medical examiner, who needs help identifying the remains of an adolescent boy found offshore. Was he the victim of a shark attack? Or something much more sinister?

A complex and riveting tale of deceit and murder unfolds in this, the thirteenth thrilling novel in Reichs’s “cleverly plotted and expertly maintained series” (The New York Times Book Review). With the smash hit Bones now in its fifth season and in full syndication — and her most recent novel, 206 Bones, an instant New York Times bestseller — Kathy Reichs is at the top of her game.


 



Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages
by Guy Deutscher
Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages

A masterpiece of linguistics scholarship, at once erudite and entertaining, confronts the thorny question of how-and whether-culture shapes language and language, culture

Linguistics has long shied away from claiming any link between a language and the culture of its speakers: too much simplistic (even bigoted) chatter about the romance of Italian and the goose-stepping orderliness of German has made serious thinkers wary of the entire subject. But now, acclaimed linguist Guy Deutscher has dared to reopen the issue. Can culture influence language-and vice versa? Can different languages lead their speakers to different thoughts? Could our experience of the world depend on whether our language has a word for "blue"?

Challenging the consensus that the fundaments of language are hard-wired in our genes and thus universal, Deutscher argues that the answer to all these questions is-yes. In thrilling fashion, he takes us from Homer to Darwin, from Yale to the Amazon, from how to name the rainbow to why Russian water-a "she"-becomes a "he" once you dip a tea bag into her, demonstrating that language does in fact reflect culture in ways that are anything but trivial. Audacious, delightful, and field-changing, Through the Language Glass is a classic of intellectual discovery.


 



Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It's So Hard to Think Straight About Animals
by Hal Herzog
Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It's So Hard to Think Straight About Animals

Combining the intellect of Malcolm Gladwell with the irreverent humor of Mary Roach and the paradigm-shifting analysis of Jared Diamond, a leading social scientist offers an unprecedented look inside our complex and often paradoxical relationships with animals.

Does living with a pet really make people happier and healthier? What can we learn from biomedical research with mice? Who enjoyed a better quality of life — the chicken on a dinner plate or the rooster who died in a Saturday-night cockfight? Why is it wrong to eat the family dog? Drawing on more than two decades of research in the emerging field of anthrozoology, the science of human–animal relations, Hal Herzog offers surprising answers to these and other questions related to the moral conundrums we face day in and day out regarding the creatures with whom we share our world.

Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat is a highly entertaining and illuminating journey through the full spectrum of human–animal relations, based on Dr. Herzog’s groundbreaking research on animal rights activists, cockfighters, professional dog-show handlers, veterinary students, and biomedical researchers. Blending anthropology, behavioral economics, evolutionary psychology, and philosophy, Herzog carefully crafts a seamless narrative enriched with real-life anecdotes, scientific research, and his own sense of moral ambivalence.

Alternately poignant, challenging, and laugh-out-loud funny, this enlightening and provocative book will forever change the way we look at our relationships with other creatures and, ultimately, how we see ourselves.


 



Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality
by Christopher Ryan, Cacilda Jethá
Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality

Since Darwin's day, we've been told that sexual monogamy comes naturally to our species. Mainstream science-as well as religious and cultural institutions-has maintained that men and women evolved in families in which a man's possessions and protection were exchanged for a woman's fertility and fidelity. But this narrative is collapsing. Fewer and fewer couples are getting married, and divorce rates keep climbing as adultery and flagging libido drag down even seemingly solid marriages.

How can reality be reconciled with the accepted narrative? It can't be, according to renegade thinkers Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá. While debunking almost everything we "know" about sex, they offer a bold alternative explanation in this provocative and brilliant book.

Ryan and Jethá's central contention is that human beings evolved in egalitarian groups that shared food, child care, and, often, sexual partners. Weaving together convergent, frequently overlooked evidence from anthropology, archaeology, primatology, anatomy, and psychosexuality, the authors show how far from human nature monogamy really is. Human beings everywhere and in every era have confronted the same familiar, intimate situations in surprisingly different ways. The authors expose the ancient roots of human sexuality while pointing toward a more optimistic future illuminated by our innate capacities for love, cooperation, and generosity.

With intelligence, humor, and wonder, Ryan and Jethá show how our promiscuous past haunts our struggles over monogamy, sexual orientation, and family dynamics. They explore why long-term fidelity can be so difficult for so many; why sexual passion tends to fade even as love deepens; why many middle-aged men risk everything for transient affairs with younger women; why homosexuality persists in the face of standard evolutionary logic; and what the human body reveals about the prehistoric origins of modern sexuality.

In the tradition of the best historical and scientific writing, Sex at Dawn unapologetically upends unwarranted assumptions and unfounded conclusions while offering a revolutionary understanding of why we live and love as we do.


 






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