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Ideas: A History of Thought and Invention, from Fire to Freud Paperback – September 26, 2006
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Top Customer Reviews
Watson is a great writer that conveys an incredible amount of information with a story teller's flair. Quite an investment in time, worth every second.
If you are like me, you didn't enjoy your History classes much when they were all about the particular (and too often unrelated) dates of political and military events. Fortunately, brilliant historians such as Peter Watson know how to weave countless facts into an engaging history, from Gilgamesh to the Cavendish Laboratory at the dawn of the 20th century.
Don't you know what Gilgamesh is? Maybe you should take a look at this book and enjoy yourself learning and thinking about things you might have taken for granted and never questioned.
This book is highly recommended for those who, keeping an open mind, want to be aware of how humans have evolved through History and would like to get to the roots of our many habits and traditions.
I wish all educated people could enjoy the insightful comments and innumerable associations of ideas that Peter Watson shares with us in his delightful history of ideas.
Maybe the most encompassing book on History ever written. Certainly the best I have ever read. A book on History from a different perspective.
But if you did go to university, here is the chance to (1) fill in all the gaps, those courses you didn't have time to take or slept through, and/or (2) if you are "of a certain age" catch up with what's been happening in your field (and others) since you graduated.
Mark Steyn had a column recently in which he attacked the author for saying that monotheistic religion had been a bad idea, historically. Be that as it may, this is a splendid book, and my only question is: how the devil did the man find time to write it? Or did he have a mulit-disciplinary army of graduate students reading hundreds of books and summarizing them?
If I only bought one book this year, this would be it.
I thought the NY Times interview [panned by 'Texan' below] was inciteful and funny. To rate a book you clearly haven't read based on a reply in an interview is to deliberately mislead the literate people who would enjoy this book. Please ignore Texan's "review", and do read this book.
Watson's capacity to discuss some of the key controversies of modern science in an even-handed manner is almost as impressive as his scholarship. Nonetheless, it is worth pointing out that it is impossible to publish a book of this scope that will not be out of date in some respects within months. The artifacts reflecting python worship 70,000 years ago in Botswana and found by Sheila Coulson from the University of Oslo, for instance, is strong support for the view that abstract thought emerged gradually in Africa and at a far earlier date than those arguing for a genetic change in European Homo sapiens 40,000 year ago. Nor, perhaps, may the discovery of Homo floresiensis face us with the challenges of explaining how a different human species with such a small brain reached the Indonesian island where their skeletons were found.
It is a surprise that a book about the power of ideas throughout human history should close suggesting that there is probably no such thing as the Platonic "inner self." While discoveries of modern neuroscience are making this an increasingly respectable position to argue, Watson's defense of his view is surprisingly poor.
Despite its riveting interest, actually reading this book is a challenge. Its 822 8x10" pages weigh over 8 pounds, which makes cumbersome bedside reading. The Big Bang to Now: A Time Line, the slim volume by T. H.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is an awesome book. I never knew how much small things like the sewing needle for example had on our future! This is well written and holds your interest. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Simon
Bad, mixed up ideas. Clearly the author was on a trip to discredit Christianity & Jesus. many weird statements,like page 218" - the gospel -covers up the fact that Simon was... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Amazon Customer
I am about a third through it and expect to learn more from this book than any I have read.Published 17 months ago by Wayne C Beyer