I realise that I’m really late to the party here. That everybody has read this over the last few years and digested it and seemingly come to love it. It’s a book du jour which still rides high in the bestseller charts; one of those that will apparently change the way you think about the world.
And for the most part I’d agree. There is a lot of fascinating stuff here. I’m interested by the dawn of man and this is great on the development of human culture; how our hunter/gatherer ancestors started to coalesce into ever larger tribes and then into towns and finally into cities. How our brains haven’t evolved at the same speed and so we’re still the same primitive creature bumbling around these big cities – but one which survives because we managed to bound from the middle to the top of the food chain.
There’s also thought provoking chapters about how a lot of this was achieved through our ability to believe in myths. Not just religion – which is the obvious one – but money and nations are all really conjured up through man’s imagination. From that point of view, it did give me a lot to ponder.
But still, it’s a bit long, isn’t it? This isn’t a book that’s wonderfully fascinating on every page, it’s more one that could tighten up and easily lose a hundred and fifty pages. I wanted it to be compulsive, but there were long passages which bored me. (It’s also a dated book, suggesting that nationalism is dying away when the years since have proved the exact opposite), So whereas I wanted to love this book like others do, I found it a frustrating experience. A treatise with a lot of good, but – like the farmers we became – you have to sort the wheat from the chaff.
My debut novel, THE WANNABES – which has been out of print for a little while – is now available for free. A supernatural thriller of beautiful actresses and deadly ambition in London town, it’s well worth your time. You can get your copy here!