- Paperback: 448 pages
- Publisher: Little Brown & Co (P) (August 1976)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0316109339
- ISBN-13: 978-0316109338
- Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.8 x 9.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (124 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,044,242 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Ascent of Man
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"The book and television series . . . are a superb teaching tool and a remarkable memorial." —Carl Sagan
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Top Customer Reviews
This however is a review of a text only version. This book reprodes Prof. Bronowski's lectures with very few of the visuals. In these lectures, rather 13 chapters the reader is taken from the beginning of man as a social, culturally artistic and technologically inventive being up into at least the 1970s, when this book was first published, and what was then emerging as the DNA driven understanding of human biology.
I am deeply impressed with the depth and breath of the authors intellect plus his immense skill with English. He was Polish born and did not come to English until he was much older. His original background shifted from a specialty in the mathematics of physics into a later career in biology while gaining recognition as a poet, historian, philosopher and (this is new to me) a "theater author". All of these skills were powerfully displayed in the television series and this is the source of my reservation over a fifth star for the book. My memories of this program from almost 30 years ago are tied to what were then some very high-tech graphics. The absence of the visuals affected my ability to appreciate the text. The power of Bronowski's language is here; unfortunately the text has not been scrubbed of all references to the images not carried over into the text.
Others have mentioned that science is moved forward, indeed leaped forward since this text was put in print. It is remarkable how much of what is here remains valid in itself or at least as a document of where our understanding was before it got to where it is. The very name of the book suggests that human progress his ongoing. A major theme of this book is that a failure to press ahead represents an ending for that culture but not an ending for human progress.
Accepting that some of the science is dated, my recommendation is based on the powerful use of language and the opportunity to spend time with a deeply thoughtful and passionate thinker
Here is an example of one of the things I found interesting in this book. The wheel is always rated as humans greatest invention; largely because every other invention (almost) uses the wheel. But People used logs to move heavy stones and, to me, the wheel always seemed fairly obvious. But Bronowski points out that the great part of the invention of the wheel is not really the wheel, it is the axle. The axle is what allows the wheel to work. This significantly changed my perspective!