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Comment: This book has already been loved by someone else. It MIGHT have some wear and tear on the edges, have some markings in it, or be an ex-library book. Over-all it's still a good book at a great price! (if it is supposed to contain a CD or access code, that may be missing)
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The Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence Mass Market Paperback – December 12, 1986

4.6 out of 5 stars 179 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Dr. Carl Sagan takes us on a great reading adventure, offering his vivid and startling insight into the brain of man and beast, the origin of human intelligence, the function of our most haunting legends--and their amazing links to recent discoveries.
"A history of the human brain from the big bang, fifteen billion years ago, to the day before yesterday...It's a delight."
THE NEW YORK TIMES

About the Author

Carl Sagan was the David Duncan Professor of Astronomy and Space Sciences and Director of the Laboratory for Planetary Studies at Cornell University. He played a leading role in the Mariner, Viking and Voyager missions to the planets and briefed the Apollo astronauts before their flights to the Moon. He helped solve many mysteries in planetary science from the high temperature of Venus to the seasonal changes on Mars. For his unique contributions, he was awarded the NASA Medals for Exceptional Scientific Achievment and for Distinguished Public Service (twice), as well as the Tsiolkovsky Medal of the Soviet Cosmonautics Federation, the John F. Kennedy Award of the American Astronautical Society and the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Space Education.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (December 12, 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345346297
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345346292
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.8 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (179 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,125 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Godwin Olivier on June 24, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Carl Sagan really does a great job of going step by step, through the brain, explaining the processes, and giving a clear understanding to the reader of how we can see the evolution of our brains from those of lowly worms, to fish, reptiles, mammals, and eventually us.
We are living proof of evolution. Carl Sagan is great at teaching us that. He is funny and interesting, makes his points clearly and concisely. He was (and continues to be) one of the greatest, most skilled popularizers of science ever, period. You'll laugh, you'll think, you'll talk about it with your friends. You will NOT be bored.
Reading this book really made me feel at one with science and myself -- the strange organic computer in my head which is my brain. I was overwhelmed. Even though this book was written over 20 years ago, Mr. Sagan speculates on theories that even now are being confirmed -- such as that structures inside the brain are responsible for spiritual or religious experiences or ecstasy. I knew it was true when I read it because I experienced this ecstasy while reading the book -- and it sure wasn't God pushing the buttons! Get this book!
On a last note, I also read Broca's Brain by Carl Sagan. It was a little more outdated and not quite as interesting. Much of the topic material is the same. You don't, therefore, need to read them both. Just get Dragons of Eden.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
About nine years ago, in about an eight-month span, I read Cosmos, Demon-Haunted World, Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors, Dragons of Eden, Pale Blue Dot, Contact, and Broca's Brain. That period of time changed my life forever. Recently, I decided to bring a more educated and critical mind to Dragons of Eden, and I now realize why I read it so fast the first time: lucid, thought-provoking ... this is the kind of book, if there is such a one, that you sprinkle salt on and gobble up in one bite.

Sagan was not anti-religion, he was pro-common sense. I challenge any intelligent, educated person to deny the essential truth of evolution after reading this (of course, the people who are most in need of reading this would never pick it up in the first place; Sagan, as they say, is preaching to the choir). He proceeds in his writing like he knows his general premise is correct (that humans DID evolve from lower life-forms) and he gently guides those who have doubts about evolution through valid arguments made simple, that appear to the critical and careful reader to be self-evident. But Dragons of Eden is not a polemic against creationism: in fact, the book is chock-full of biblical imagery and mythology, but is used for what should be its true purpose, to understand where humans have been, not where they are or are yet to go.

Brilliantly illustrated, the Dragons of Eden rewards all who read it with a sense of enlightenment. Only the segment on computer technology towards the end of the book seems dated (but humorously quaint). After 29 years, this is a stupendous feat! It just goes to show that in 1976, Sagan was so far ahead of nonscientists that we are still catching up to his vivid examples of the evolution of human intelligence.
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I had certainly heard of Carl Sagan, but only in terms of cosmology. I had no idea that he wrote extensively on the field of evolutionary biology-stimulated by his wife, the biologist Ann Druyan. My field is not science, so The Dragon's of Eden was my first encounter with the idea of the tripartite brain. The idea does not originate with Sagan, as he himself points out, but this slender volume makes the idea quite assessable for the lay person and, more importantly, it creatively explores the idea's possible implications. Although I read this book years ago, I have thought of it several times a week since then, as I speculate upon some of the biological causes of human behavior. Newer models of the brain have already proved some of the basic ideas in this book as a bit oversimplified, but if you are looking for an introduction to speculating about how the brain's evolution may shape human behaviors, this is great place to start. I found the book a "mind blower"-and I always pick it up used when I see it to give to friends. Prepare to have your perception of perception itself turned upside down.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Now I definitely need to read more of Carl Sagan's books. This one is not very recent (he speaks of a new video game called "Pong"), but full of thought-provoking and interesting concepts concerning intelligence and evolution. I was pleasantly surprised to see that he had a chapter pertaining to dreamstates. ("Tales of Dim Eden") Also pertaining to Eden, he illustrates how the Genesis story of Man and his Fall can in some senses really be accurate, not (pseudo)scientifically (as in Creationism...obviously it is a book on evolution and phylogeny) but as a metaphor for several characteristics of the human races emerging onto the present scene of a civilisation stemmed from the frontal lobes. Which in the big picture has been very recent, to show this he condenses the life of the cosmos to a scale Cosmic Calendar of 365 days. Us Earthlings almost miss the New Year's party. Neurologically, the areas of the brain are explored and their respective functions as well as connections to mammallian and reptilian ancestors. (A triune model is used) Finally, he briefly touches on our search for extraterrestrial intelligence and, very appropriately to this setting, exposes the West's lack of appreciation for scientific knowledge the world which we inhabit and our irrational attraction to superstition and bogus claims of occult psuedo-science... something I just had to include somewhere in here.
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