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Transcendence Reviews

Transcendence by Gaia Vince


How Humans Evolved through Fire, Language, Beauty, and Time

Gaia Vince

Score pending

1 review

Category: Non-fiction, History
Imprint: Allen Lane
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Publication date: 7 Nov 2019
ISBN: 9780241281116

Drawing on cutting-edge advances in population genetics, archaeology, palaeontology and neuroscience, Transcendence compels us to reimagine ourselves, showing us to be on the brink of something grander - and potentially more destructive.

  • The TimesBook of the Year
4 stars out of 5
8 Nov 2019

"even on well-trodden ground, Vince steps with lightness"

At her best Vince takes dizzying leaps, making connections between archaeology, anthropology, genetics and psychology. She is especially good on the delicate interplay between genes, environment and culture. If, for instance, your society cultivated wheat crops that needed a plough — pulled by a man — the chances are you are more patriarchal than societies where women could work in the fields pulling rice. Power, and nutrition, was shared. There is a particular joy in a section that in just a few pages takes us from Aboriginal storytellers to the neurological basis of the placebo effect to a doctor who cured a patient by convincing him he had had a lizard enema (it’s complicated).