Top positive review
Dry, but worth the read if you're into the subject matter.
Reviewed in the United States on January 4, 2010
Jared Diamond has written brilliant books (Guns, Germs and Steel; Collapse; The Third Chimpanzee among others) that triangulate data from an array of different fields to reach conclusions about our history on this planet. His belief in that methodology for understanding our species and our history is what is at the heart of this collection of essays, which he edited along with a colleague. Indeed, the book is a defense of those methodologies.
Some of the essays are more interesting than others: notable is the one which quantitatively correlates the extent of the slave trade in various African countries with the state of their modern-day economic development (or rather, the lack thereof.)
It's a bit of a dry read -- in some essays more than in others. But if this methodology for understanding our past interests you, it's worth the read.