Origins: How Earth's History Shaped Human History

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A New York Times best-selling author explains how the physical world shaped the history of our species

When we talk about human history, we often focus on great leaders, population forces, and decisive wars. But how has the earth itself determined our destiny? Our planet wobbles, driving changes in climate that forced the transition from nomadism to farming. Mountainous terrain led to the development of democracy in Greece. Atmospheric circulation patterns later on shaped the progression of global exploration, colonization, and trade. Even today, voting behavior in the southeast United States ultimately follows the underlying pattern of 75 million-year-old sediments from an ancient sea. Everywhere is the deep imprint of the planetary on the human.

From the cultivation of the first crops to the founding of modern states, Origins reveals the breathtaking impact of the earth beneath our feet on the shape of our human civilizations.

3 comments on “Origins: How Earth's History Shaped Human History”

  1. A page turner biography of our unsteady planet, its creatures--and us. If you're interested in your planet's astonishing evolution from red hot asteroid to green Eden, and haven't kept up with recent research into Earth's prehistory, you'll appreciate hearing from a science writer who has kept up, and can tell stories about it in prose worthy of Carl Sagan, Richard Dawkins, or Timothy Ferris.The general theme is of how several billion years of tectonic plate collisions & volcanic upheavals have left their imprint on biological & human history all the...

  2. Fascinating bok Fascinating from beginning to end. Dartnell masterfully interweaves the story of Earth's geologic and climate history with that of the evolution of life on earth and of human civilization. However, I was disappointed that he could not control his need to indulge in the occasional modern day retrospective moralizing. For instance, pointing out that the "downside" of a sedentary agrarian society was a hierarchical society resulting in "inequality" as opposed to the "equality" of the...

  3. Good Blend of Astronomy, Geology and History Excellent book with numerous insights clearly explained. Our earth seems like a ball of rock but instead is extremely dynamic. A living breathing, dynamic beast living in a dynamic solar system. It is tilted, wobbles inconsistently through an elliptical orbit and gets pulled by gravity of surrounding dynamic planets. This has created numerous hot and cold spells for billions of years. Land masses float, split, impact, coalesce and split again. Water seeps into the interior, through plate...

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