Cover art for podcast Open Source with Christopher Lydon

Open Source with Christopher Lydon

50 EpisodesProduced by Christopher LydonWebsite

Christopher Lydon in conversation on arts, ideas and politics

50:51

A New History of Humanity

Giant questions this hour, and a slew of fresh answers: Where do we humans come from? Who are we, after all? Where are we going? Was our pre-history a Garden of Eden, or a nasty war of survival, or some of both? Are we human beings good or evil, by the way? Pretty much the same, the world around, or many different varieties? An anthropologist and an archaeologist walked into a bar, so to speak—into an endless chain of emails, in fact, and produced a bestseller, chock full of Stone Age history and modern science. Their book is titled The Dawn of Everything. A main argument is that we’ve been one free-wheeling, improvisational species for fifty thousand years. A main question might be: when and how did we get to feel so stuck in this 21st century?

  • The Davids: Wengrow, left, and Graeber.

Make way this hour for the news of our human pre-history. Could it be: that our Stone Age ancestors were just as smart as we are, as playful and strong—if anything more inventive and adaptive than we, as they settled a planet and seeded a great variety of civilizations 10,000 years ago? The questions come from a surprise bestseller, The Dawn of Everything: it’s a 600-page brick of a book by an anthropologist and an archeologist, sharing fresh evidence and best guesses in A New History of Humanity. The sadness in reading it is that the American co-author David Graeber died as he was finishing the great work of his life. The relief is that his writing partner in London, David Wengrow, is still grappling with the puzzles they posed. 

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