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Unbound: How Eight Technologies Made Us Human and Brought Our World to the Brink

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | Unbound: How Eight Technologies Made Us Human and Brought Our World to the Brink.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Richard L Currier(Author),Tom Gjelten(Foreword)

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*A Wall Street Journal Bestseller*

Like Guns, Germs, and Steel, a work of breathtaking sweep and originality that reinterprets the human story.

Although we usually think of technology as something unique to modern times, our ancestors began to create the first technologies millions of years ago in the form of prehistoric tools and weapons. Over time, eight key technologies gradually freed us from the limitations of our animal origins.

The fabrication of weapons, the mastery of fire, and the technologies of clothing and shelter radically restructured the human body, enabling us to walk upright, shed our body hair, and migrate out of tropical Africa. Symbolic communication transformed human evolution from a slow biological process into a fast cultural process. The invention of agriculture revolutionized the relationship between humanity and the environment, and the technologies of interaction led to the birth of civilization. Precision machinery spawned the industrial revolution and the rise of nation-states; and in the next metamorphosis, digital technologies may well unite all of humanity for the benefit of future generations.

Synthesizing the findings of primatology, paleontology, archeology, history, and anthropology, Richard Currier reinterprets and retells the modern narrative of human evolution that began with the discovery of Lucy and other Australopithecus fossils. But the same forces that allowed us to integrate technology into every aspect of our daily lives have also brought us to the brink of planetary catastrophe. Unbound explains both how we got here and how human society must be transformed again to achieve a sustainable future.

Technology: “The deliberate modification of any natural object or substance with forethought to achieve a specific end or to serve a specific purpose.”

Richard L. Currier earned his BA and PhD in social and cultural anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley and taught anthropology at Berkeley, the University of Minnesota, and the State University of New York. He coauthored a ten-volume series on archaeology for young adults and published numerous articles in scholarly journals and mainstream magazines. A pioneer in the design and development of interactive learning technologies, Currier has won numerous awards for his work. He lives in Oceanside, California.

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Review Text

  • By Benjammin on February 11, 2016

    This book falls very much into the category of man-against-nature, "progress" narratives about human history, and is largely typical of that genre, extending our technological genius all the way back to the australopithecines. There are some peculiarities, however, that call into question the author's credentials and judgment. For example, at the outset, the author implies that hunter-gatherer groups are totally hierarchical, when as an anthropologist he well knows (or should know) that there is a tremendous amount of research into hunter-gatherer groups showing they are basically egalitarian (see Chris Boehm's 1999 book for example). Presumably he omits this because humans transitioning from egalitarian to hierarchical societies doesn't fit his overall narrative of ever-expanding human liberty thanks to the advance of technology. There are several points toward the end of the book where the author does begin to admit some of the darker effects of technology, when he laments the "demise of traditional values" (p239) and the fact that women have sadly lost their place in the home ("the very labor-saving devices that modern people have acquired to make women's work lighter and easier have had the effect of depriving women of the indispensable position they formerly enjoyed in their relationships with men and in society in general'' (p230)) , but he goes on to reassure us that we can overcome any problem. And incredibly, he argues that dumping CO2 into the atmosphere, far from being a bad thing, is actually *helping* by preventing the real danger---another ice age. As a student of both anthropology and physics, I found the book lacking and do not recommend it.

  • By Dee Arr on February 21, 2017

    Richard Currier’s book “Unbound” takes us back millions of years in order to lead us back through eight technologies that contributed to the world we inhabit today. Once completed, he delves into a ninth, tackling the digital information age and discussing the impact it has had and will continue to have on our lives as well as those who follow us.While this book could easily have been a myriad of technical terms, Mr. Currier has written it in an educational as well as entertaining manner. Many interesting facts are contained on nearly every page (As an example, that strong grip a newborn exhibits at birth is actually a hereditary requirement from the days when infants needed to grasp its mother’s fur with both hands and feet so the mother could use her hands and feet to keep the two of them alive. Our current set of toes, of course, do not allow for grabbing, and humans have long outgrown the need to live in trees).In fact, the descriptions of how and why humans evolved – such as I mentioned in the above paragraph – are amazing and yet make so much sense due to the author’s wonderful commentary. Most of us realize that fire was a game-changer, but the consideration of how bipedal locomotion affected females in the gathering of food or the reasons why man HAD to be making clothes a million years ago are also monumental steps in our progression to the 21st century. His detailed explanation on how agricultural societies impacted man and helped create villages, trade, and eventually city-states are enlightening. Lastly, Mr. Currier touches on the potential for a planetary catastrophe of our own making as man demonstrates a disregard for the danger signs that nature keeps erecting in our path.Bottom line: Entertaining and educational, “Unbound” just might cause you to read it in one or two sittings. Highly recommended. Five stars.

  • By Cooper Robert on October 3, 2015

    I have just put down what will be a classic and required reading in anthropology departments. 'Unbound' is more: it is a highly readable, believable history of how Man became what s/he is. It's a big book, and getting five million years into some 400+ pages must have been a Herculean task of editing for Currier. I read it almost at a sitting. Rarely can one call a work of non-fiction a page-turner, but this one is. And having been a Professor of Anthropology or actively involved in practical anthropology all my working life, and looking for the faults and what's missing, I am surprised to say at no point did I stop and note 'this is wrong' or 'he missed out ~'. This is one of those satisfying complete works that will appeal equally to the academic and the educated 'man in the street'. The structure is more than clever, it is original: with inventions leading up to language, the point at which most assessments of modern man begin. The reader will get some new viewpoints on early development ~ bipedalism and the invention of the spear stand out~ and, most importantly, how the bits go together to make evolution. The title is as brilliant as the 'binding' into various parts for ease of reference. Read Darwin, then read Currier. We are going to hear much of this book.


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