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The Invention of Yesterday Summary and Reviews

The Invention of Yesterday

A 50,000-Year History of Human Culture, Conflict, and Connection

by Tamim Ansary

The Invention of Yesterday by Tamim Ansary X
The Invention of Yesterday by Tamim Ansary
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Book Summary

From language to culture to cultural collision: the story of how humans invented history, from the Stone Age to the Virtual Age.

Traveling across millennia, weaving the experiences and world views of cultures both extinct and extant, The Invention of Yesterday shows that the engine of history is not so much heroic (battles won), geographic (farmers thrive), or anthropogenic (humans change the planet) as it is narrative.

Many thousands of years ago, when we existed only as countless small autonomous bands of hunter-gatherers widely distributed through the wilderness, we began inventing stories--to organize for survival, to find purpose and meaning, to explain the unfathomable. Ultimately these became the basis for empires, civilizations, and cultures. And when various narratives began to collide and overlap, the encounters produced everything from confusion, chaos, and war to cultural efflorescence, religious awakenings, and intellectual breakthroughs.

Through vivid stories studded with insights, Tamim Ansary illuminates the world-historical consequences of the unique human capacity to invent and communicate abstract ideas. In doing so, he also explains our ever-more-intertwined present: the narratives now shaping us, the reasons we still battle one another, and the future we may yet create.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"A well-written and valuable take on the diverse narratives that have shaped human history." - Kirkus Reviews

"A masterly effort with an intriguing thesis put forward to explain key factors contributing to human history. Highly recommended." - Brian Renvall, Library Journal

"Ansary offers a remarkable big-picture synthesis that draws upon geography but resists determinism, and celebrates diversity while embracing humanity's commonalities." - Booklist

"This overview paints a cogent and superficially impressive picture of world history, but it doesn't have much room for depth, complexity, and argumentation. Readers willing to take Ansary's word for things, however, can sit back and enjoy the ride." - Publishers Weekly

"A beautifully written world history focused on the stories different civilizations have told about who we are. It ends with a fundamental question: In today's extraordinary world, can we build new narratives that are inclusive and global enough to encourage worldwide cooperation in the task of building a better future for humanity?" - David Christian, distinguished professor, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia, and author of Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History and Origin Story: A Big History of Everything

"The Invention of Yesterday is an insightful guide into human civilization packed with information that shows how we have been connected globally since the beginning of history. Tamim Ansary unpacks complicated theories to make sense of how we became who we are today." - Fariba Nawa, author of Opium Nation: Child Brides, Drug Lords and One Woman's Journey through Afghanistan

This information about The Invention of Yesterday was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Tamim Ansary Author Biography

Photo: Martin Klimek

Ansary grew up in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. He was named after Tamim-i-Ansar, one of two brothers who conquered Afghanistan for Islam 1200 years ago and who now lie buried in matching 12-foot-long marble tombs atop a hill overlooking the artists and poets cemetery. Ansary’s father taught science and literature at Kabul University, and his American mother taught English at the first girls’ school in Afghanistan. His relatives lived throughout the city and in the nearby grape-growing village of Deh Yahya.

Then the family moved to Lashkargah, a small town in the middle of the desert in southwestern Afghanistan, the headquarters of a vast American-funded project to make the desert bloom.

In 1964, Ansary got a scholarship to an American high school, ...

... Full Biography
Link to Tamim Ansary's Website

Name Pronunciation
Tamim Ansary: tuh-MEEM un-saw-REE

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