The Book of Humans

The Book of Humans

We like to think of ourselves as exceptional beings, but is there really anything special about us that sets us apart from other animals? Humans are the slightest of twigs on a single family tree that encompasses four billion years, a lot of twists and turns, and a billion species. All of those organisms are rooted in a single origin, with a common code that underwrites our existence. This paradox – that our biology is indistinct from all life, yet we consider ourselves to be special – lies at the heart of who we are.

In this original and entertaining tour of life on Earth, Adam Rutherford explores how many of the things once considered to be exclusively human are not: we are not the only species that communicates, makes tools, utilises fire, or has sex for reasons other than to make new versions of ourselves. Evolution has, however, allowed us to develop our culture to a level of complexity that outstrips any other observed in nature.

THE BOOK OF HUMANS tells the story of how we became the creatures we are today, bestowed with the unique ability to investigate what makes us who we are. Illuminated by the latest scientific discoveries, it is a thrilling compendium of what unequivocally fixes us as animals, and reveals how we are extraordinary among them.
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Genre: Mathematics & Science

On Sale: 13th September 2018

Price: £18.99

ISBN-13: 9780297609421

Reviews

[Rutherford] is well able to explicate scientific complexities, including the origin and development of man. He writes with intellectual authority and also, as a popular lecturer and broadcaster, expresses himself in a clear and persuasive manner with natural charm
Patrick Skene Catling, THE SPECTATOR
An entertaining exploration of human evolution, showing that, amidst the teeming multitudes of lifeforms surrounding us, we are really not that special. And yet we are ... Wonderfully crafted, this is a readable, fun exploration of human evolution and how we compare to the animals surrounding us
Leon Vlieger, THE INQUISITIVE BIOLOGIST
Did you know that bottlenose dolphins deliberately protect their beaks with sea sponges when they are foraging on the seabed? Or that New Caledonian crows will strip twigs down into spears to search inside logs for wheedle grubs? With these and many other examples of intelligence, geneticist Dr Adam Rutherford explores to what extent other animal species ('Humans are animals,' he says pointedly at the very start of the book) display characteristics we would normally classify as exclusively human
Chris Fitch, GEOGRAPHICAL
An outstandingly clear and witty account that shows beyond doubt how much we are part of the animal world, and yet at the same time how different we have become
HENRY MARSH
I've learned more about myself and my species than I thought possible. A beautiful, compassionate book exploring not just human nature but also the human condition. I'm more in love with Adam Rutherford's writing than ever
ANGELA SAINI
A kind of intellectual enema, exposing the popular myths about human exceptionalism ... [Rutherford] makes a charming guide, giving the impression that, like us, he finds it all rather mysterious, though he clearly knows what he is talking about
Michael Bond, NEW SCIENTIST
Turns out we're not the only species that makes tools or uses fire - so what does that mean for humanity? Adam Rutherford takes us on a myth-busting tour of human history, exploring whether we really are as exceptional as we think
BBC FOCUS MAGAZINE
A sensational tour of life on Earth and an illustration of the things we consider unique to us humans but are, quite simply, not
Lucy Fisher, BIG ISSUE IN THE NORTH
If teaching is what makes humans special, then Adam Rutherford is superhuman - the paragon of teachers, a truly gifted transmitter of knowledge: lucid, enlightening, witty and delightful
KATE FOX
[A] fascinating, well-researched, and at times both funny and disturbing book
Bianca Nogrady, CANBERRA TIMES (Australia)
Adam Rutherford's entertaining and pithy The Book of Humans focuses on the features that make Homo sapiens so special - language, tool-making, and war-mongering - and finds startling parallels for each attribute in many other animals
Robin McKie, THE OBSERVER
A book that is deftly outlined, concisely constructed and filled with intriguing observations and anecdotes. Rutherford is an engaging, witty writer ... An entertaining and blessedly succinct read
Robin McKie, THE OBSERVER
This is a beautiful compendium of sketches about the wonders of evolution, which also takes in genetics, the origins of language and much else
Steven Poole, THE GUARDIAN
Adam Rutherford is a master storyteller. THE BOOK OF HUMANS is packed to the brim with intriguing tales, clever twists and up-to-the-minute scientific discoveries, offering a completely new perspective on who we are and how we came to be
HANNAH FRY
In Adam Rutherford's splendid The Book of Humans, we learn how giraffes enjoy homosexual assignations, how dolphins use sponges to protect their noses, and how birds of the raptor class have been observed picking up smouldering twigs from forest fires, flying away and dropping them to start new fires, at which point they swoop and gobble up the panicked mammals and lizards rushing away
Steven Poole, DAILY TELEGRAPH
This delightful and charming book will change the way you see yourself, and your place in the natural world
ED YONG
This superbly accessible discussion about who we humans really are is important and necessary
CHRIS PACKHAM
An ideal read for a family history enthusiast who's keen to learn more ... The story entertainingly weaves through the long view of history, taking in our key developments that together we see as making us human (tools, fire, language, for instance), and comparing us to our fellow creatures, with some surprising results ... I'd recommend this book to anyone wishing to feed their curiosity about the human story and how we've evolved
Helen Tovey, FAMILY TREE MAGAZINE
Adam Rutherford is a superb communicator, who eruditely explores the borderlands of history, archaeology, genetics and anthropology in this fascinating tour of our species
DAN SNOW
Charming, compelling and packed with information. I learned more about biology from this short book than I did from years of science lessons. Adam Rutherford has a knack of making complex ideas understandable - and also fun. Our species is a lot stranger than I'd ever realised, but a lot more normal too. A weird and wonderful read
PETER FRANKOPAN
In his entertaining The Book of Humans, Adam Rutherford assails the notion of human exceptionalism while simultaneously detailing why it is that humans are, nevertheless, a highly distinctive species
Adrian Woolfson, LITERARY REVIEW