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Paperback The Rise and Fall of the Third Chimpanzee : Evolution and Human Life Book

ISBN: 0099913801

ISBN13: 9780099913801

The Rise and Fall of the Third Chimpanzee : Evolution and Human Life

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Book Overview

The Development of an Extraordinary Species We human beings share 98 percent of our genes with chimpanzees. Yet humans are the dominant species on the planet -- having founded civilizations and... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

6 ratings



Very Informative

This is my second book of Jared Diamond after "Guns, Germs and Steel" and without any doubt this is a very informative book. Especially the chapters on human sexuality was very much new to me. Also he convincingly puts the case of conservation of environment. In fact, if you have any doubt about the urgency of conserving environment, read this book. You might see so many things in a new light. You might even be motivated to donate funds for the conservation societies like WWF. At the end, actualy it paints a bleak future for humanity and is somewhat a depressing book in this sense.


After reading Diamond's "Guns, Germs, and Steel" I became hooked on the subject of global history and evolution. Consequently, I couldn't wait to get my hands on "The Rise and Fall of the Third Chimpanzee". Diamond's writing is not only extremely interesting, it is interest-shaping, and I was not disappointed with this second highly compulsive read. For those who have read GG & S, I can say that both books compliment one another nicely. The Rise & Fall covers similar themes - expanding on many, and opening the way for GG & S to cover many others. Anyone who enjoyed one book will surely enjoy the other. To begin with, Diamond first examines the fact that we share more than 98 per cent of our genes with chimps, and so he concludes that by the rules of zoology we are in fact a third species of chimp. He then proceeds with his thesis, setting out to examine what it is in our genes that accounts for our dramatic rise and makes us so exceptionally different to chimps and all other animals. Much of his discussion examines the following proposition: There must be animal precedents in the things that we like to feel make us human (including tools, art, language, and plant and animal domestication) - as well as in some less positive things (murder, genocide, habitat destruction) - for such a small difference in genes to have gone such a long way. Accordingly, there is much to fascinate people who enjoy reading about some of the wonderful oddities and curiosities belonging to the human and animal kingdom, as Diamond considers the precedents and precursors of these attributes in animals, and then traces their rise in Cro-Magnon man. In the final chapters he then puts all this together to give a chilling prognosis of the way we may soon prove our own undoing, but although this is inevitably less scientific and more conjecture than the preceding chapters, Diamond is careful to observe where fact does become opinion (and where theories are not necessarily widely accepted), and so I felt that his conclusion was quite relevant. I have said that his writing is extremely interesting. Another thing that I like about his work is the fact that he draws a lot from his own adventures in Papua New Guinea; that he writes from a broad intellectual base (referring to many sciences and their findings as he puts a massive puzzle together to construct very plausible arguments); but at the same time he is not above using even childish humour ('fart' comes from the Proto-Indo-European word, 'perd', one reads). People who like reading about the origins of Homo sapiens will also perhaps be fascinated by an in-depth discussion on the relative phallus size of the various apes (cleavage size is covered too), and on the implications pertaining to our own place along the scale. In short, I found "The Rise and Fall of the Third Chimpanzee" to be another highly interesting, factual, educational and compulsive read.

An interesting book on human nature

I thought that the 12 years past since The Third Chimpanzee was published, until I have read it would be a heavy burden for the book. I was very wrong. The Third Chimpanzee has been without any doubt one of the most interesting, pleasant, and thought-stimulator that I have read. I also approached to TTC after reading Guns, Germs & Steel (GGS) by Diamond. But contrarily to other people, I find TTC much better book than the former. TTC is more compact, has a more proper length (in relation to its contents), and is less speculative than GGS. Not all the book keeps the same level of quality, there are some chapters a bit less interesting and clear (because of speculation) than others, but don't doubt that all of them are worthy reading. The book is divided in five parts. The first part is destined to locate the human just as one more animal species within the filogenetic tree, very close to other apes and particularly to chimpanzees. According with his view, human being should be classified as a third member of the chimpanzeesEgenus, and such genus would be named Homo. But after that, with a small biological change (at least small portion of our DNA), it happened the great leap forward, which made the now apparent differences between humans and other animal species. This part is interesting, supported by strong arguments. The second part goes through the peculiarities of the human life cycle: our long life, reproductive biology, sexual selection, etc. I think it is the best part of the book. Worthy to read for everybody, there are many things to learn. The third part analyses some traits commonly assumed to be uniquely human, such as language, art, agriculture, and others more. The conclusion is supposed to be that these traits are not really unique, and that you can find similarities and parallelisms in other animal species, or isn't that the conclusion? This is the most speculative part of the book, and not always in a good way. For me those are the weakest chapters of TTC. When I was beginning to get disappointed with the evolution of the book the forth part, dedicated to war, conquer, and genocide again attracted all my interest. The story about the Hittites, the indo-european languages and horse-ridding peoples from Asian steppes was one of the most appealing of the book. The chronicle of genocides like the one of Tasmanian people will sure touch you. However, the objective of the section is to discuss the uniqueness of some more obscures traits of human beings. You can guess the conclusion. The last section is dedicated to humans as a key species, to how humans have spread and increased in numbers and technological power, and its consequences for our environment and biological communities. You will find the role of humans in the extinction of megafauna, the colonization of the American continent, and the risks posed by the present human-driven species extinction crisis. All these topics have been later developed and updated by other a

An appeal to reason

Opening with a false statement: "it's obvious that humans are unlike other animals", this book goes on to strenuously refute this widely held assertion. Diamond spends the remaining chapters explaining why the allegation is false. He does this first by showing how close we are to the other primates. He follows that by bringing the human species into a more valid relationship with the rest of the animal kingdom. He uses the mechanisms of evolution, from eating habits through language to sexual practices. The theme of this book is to challenge to us to reconsider our view of our place in life's panorama. It's clear that we can no longer hold ourselves aloof from our relations in the animal kingdom. When art critics and psychologists can be deceived by animal-produced art, the claim that "humans are unlike other animals" rings pretty thin.The range of topics is extensive, and he handles them with a special talent, exercised with aplomb. We like to think we are exclusive among animals in having speech, writing, agriculture and other aspects of "civilization". Diamond shows us that those aspects we think are particular to us are in fact shared by numerous other species. Ours may be more pronounced, but they are not isolated in us. These abilities differ only in degree, usually limited by environment or physical capabilities. But they are the shared result of the evolutionary process.Diamond has a special talent for the sweeping view. He's used this aptitude elsewhere, but perhaps none of his books quite match what he's done here. Challenging many of our dearly held beliefs with a refreshing directness, he aptly demonstrates that if we can learn how evolution works, we'll gain a better understanding of ourselves. Given our history over the past four thousand years, our need for this understanding is approaching a critical level. He understands where we've been and where we might be going. There are endless warnings in this book about what decisions we're making and will make. We must do them thoughtfully. But first we must shed the concept that nature "owes" us anything. The biblical injunction to "have dominion over the earth" must be abandoned, and quickly. We share the planet with millions of other species and must act responsibly. Otherwise, extinction, and a premature one, at that, is sure to follow. How many more of those fellow creatures will we take with us?Those who decry Diamond for "politics" in this book are leading you astray. It isn't his politics that Diamond wants you to follow, but ethics. If there is any aspect of humanity that can separate us from the other animals, it's in making ethical decisions. His final chapter shows our intellect has brought us under two distinct clouds - the nuclear holocaust and the environmental one. The first may be slightly subdued, but the second is gaining on us. We are destroying natural habitat at an unprecedented rate. Diamond calls on us all

A Fascinating and Provocative Look at the Human Species

Jared Diamonds award winning work, The Third Chimpanzee, is really a collection of essays put together and given a coherent form. As Diamond notes, the theme is about how the Human species became so unique, and what its achievements and limitations are. Divided into five parts, the first deals with the evolution of humans from other apes, and emphasizes the importance of language in explaining the huge leap forward in human techology and sophistication 40,000 years ago. The second section deals with the biological aspects of the human life cycle. This includes such controversial topics such as adultery, race origins, and aging. In each chapter he brings forth new ideas that are both intellectually sound and original, such as that human races evolved not due to climate, but personal preference. His third section, "Uniquely human," includes two chapters that have generally been overlooked. In one, he argues that the agriculutural revolution has been responsible for both mankind's advances and woes. And the last chapter suggests that scientists are wasting their time looking for other intelligent life in the universe, since intelligence is a small niche that biology filled here, but probably not on other planets. The fourth section is the precursor to Guns, Germs, and Steel, where be begins to lay out his theory, and discusses the disastrous effecs of agricultural societies meeting hunter-gatherer ones. The final section is perhaps the most interesting. It discusses how pre-modern man managed to wipe out the large animals in nearly every new region of the world he came to, whether it be New Zealand, Madagascar, or Polynesia. Ditto for the New World. Europeans were not alone in their destruction of the environment. The book ends with an exhortation for a more prudent ecological policy. In sum, this book is a great read, filled with fascinating insights and theories, that will fill any readers head with a wealth of information he may never have imagined beforehand. Readers familiar with Diamond will not be disappointed, and those who have not yet read him will soon be acquainted with his easy yet sophisiticated writing style, which make it a pleasure to learn about complicated topics such as these.
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