How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous
Numerous recent books discuss cultural evolution in an effort to explain the modern domination of Western culture in the world. Joseph Heinrich offers a credible explanation, to an increasingly important situation.
A masterpiece. Staggering in range, intricate in detail, thrilling in ambition, this book is a landmark in social thought. Henrich may go down as the most influential social scientist of the first half of the twenty-first century. -- Matthew Syed * bestselling author of 'Black Box Thinking' and 'Bounce' * Illuminates a journey into human nature that is more exciting, more complex and ultimately more consequential than has previously been suspected. * Nature * A massively ambitious work that explains the transition to the modern world ... Significantly contributes to our understanding -- Francis Fukuyama, author of The Origins of Political Order Engagingly written, excellently organized and meticulously argued . . . This is an extraordinarily ambitious book, along the lines of Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel ... We will all have to change our perspective. -- Daniel C. Dennett * New York Times * The most absorbing, provocative and compelling book I have read in a long time. Joseph Henrich's thrilling expos of cultural variety and evolution is grounded in meticulous science, and his arguments go beyond the milestone of Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel. You will never look again in the same way at your own seemingly universal values. -- Uta Frith * Emeritus Professor of Cognitive Development, University College London * Phenomenal ... The only theory I am aware of that attempts to explain broad patterns of human psychology on a global scale. -- Coren Apicella, Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania * Washington Post * This anthropology-meets-big-data approach is not merely innovative, but underpins a fascinating and creative book, brimming with provocative ideas. * Financial Times * There's nothing so fascinating as a social anthropologist's analysis of his own tribe. Henrich shows how strange and exceptional Western society is when compared with most of the world -- John Barton, author of A History of the Bible Henrich has thought more deeply about cultural evolution than anybody alive. His fascinating insights into just how weird people like he and I are, with our western lifestyles, and what the implications of that are for better and for worse, are a great contribution to scholarship. -- Matt Ridley * author of 'How Innovation Works' * Propelled by a bold vision, this landmark study is required reading for anyone curious about the origins of modernity -- Walter Scheidel, author of The Great Leveler Henrich and his colleagues are shaking the foundations of psychology and economics - and hoping to change the way social scientists think about human behaviour and culture. * Pacific Standard * [A] sweeping and magisterial book, likely to become as foundational to cultural psychology as the WEIRD acronym [Henrich] and his colleagues coined a decade ago. -- Alex Mackiel * Quillette * Joseph Henrich's The WEIRDest People in the World . . . makes for stunning reading. (It is also written with such wit and humor, and luminous clarity.) Probably an understatement to say that it is one of the most important books of the year. -- Cass Sunstein * author of Nudge * One of the most interesting books I've read this year. -- James Marriot (via Twitter) A brilliant performance - accessible, playful and scholarly, turning conventional history on its head and approaching it in a new way. -- Simon Sebag-Montefiore * BBC History Books of the Year *
Joseph Henrich is an award-winning anthropologist, and a professor and chair of the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University. He is the author of The Secret of our Success. He lives in Massachusetts.