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The Ascent of Man [Hardcover]

Jacob Bronowski
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)

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Kindle Edition £4.68  
Hardcover £5.31  
Hardcover, April 1974 --  
Paperback £7.99  

Book Description

April 1974
Traces our rise - both as a species and as moulders of our own environment and future. The book covers invention from the flint tool to geometry, from the arch to the Theory of Relativity. It also explores the social and historical background that gave rise to those inventions. Its grasp of both science and civilization shows man's ability to understand nature, to control it and not be controlled by it.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Frequently Bought Together

The Ascent of Man + The Ascent Of Man : Complete BBC Series [DVD] [1973]
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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Little Brown & Co (T); Third impression edition (April 1974)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316109304
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316109307
  • Product Dimensions: 24.9 x 17.5 x 3.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 958,315 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"The book and television series... are a superb teaching tool and a remarkable memorial" (Carl Sagan)

"A great book... it taught me a huge amount about mixing history and science" (Simon Singh) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

A new paperback edition of Dr Bronowski's classic history of humankind, with a foreword by Richard Dawkins --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
This is a fascinating book that grew out of a fascinating TV series. The Ascent of Man attempts to follow the ascendancy of Mankind from his first evolutionary footsteps in pre-history through each significant cultural progression right up into the modern day, which was 1973, the date of publication of this book. Bronowski had a brilliant intellect and a huge knowledge of science and the arts. He also had a gift of articulating his knowledge in such a way as to make it, not only assessable, but interesting. Nowhere were his gifts put to better use than in this book. Chapter by chapter, he takes us through the ascent of Man, starting from the Stone Age caves of Altamira and through into agriculture; the discovery of fire and the elements; Pythagoras and mathematics; Copernicus, Galileo and astrology; Newton and Einstein; the Industrial Revolution; Darwin, Wallace and Natural Selection; Gregor Mendel and the discovery of Genetics, and into the final chapter, The Long Childhood, where Bronowski argues that science is “the recognition of the uniqueness of man, and a pride in his gifts and works. It is not the business of science to inherit the earth, but to inherit the moral imagination; because without that man and beliefs and science will perish together.” It’s a giddy but satisfying journey.
There are parts that I did not understand; but most of it I did. This is not heavy reading. Bronowski had a real literary touch. Take this for example: “Man is a singular creature. He has a set of gifts which make him unique among the animals; so that, unlike them, he is not a figure in the landscape - he is a shaper of the landscape.” These two beautiful sentences set the tone and the subject of the book perfectly, and it is a standard that never lapses.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A book which celebrates doubt and vision 2 Mar 2005
Format:Paperback
The book of the television series (and now DVD release) which broke new ground in the delivery of historical and scientific analysis. Well-written, accessible, and comprehensively illustrated, it nevertheless lacks the power and impact of the broadcast and can be best enjoyed as an accompaniment to the series rather than as a substitute for it.
Bronowski presents his investigation of the development of civilisation in thematic form, exploring the ways in which the inexplicable have been explained and efforts made, if not to tame the world, at least to grapple with its explanation. He shows how the human mind has grown in vision, from the domestication of animals and grain, to the taming of fire, the understanding of the planetary system, and the manipulation of numbers.
The television series was an epic, a gripping and absorbing experience. Bronowski, demonstrated that he could communicate the complex, and this is equally true of the book. It does not, however, have the dynamism or excitement of the series. It does present Bronowski's greatest contribution, his emphasis that the true dynamic of science is not explanation but uncertainty: science is about questioning, about overturning assumed certainties. The true worth of civilisation is in promoting intolerance of ignorance.
Bronowski demonstrates that enlightenment has been hard won; however, if we view the human mind as capable of shining light into the darkness of ignorance, that mind can easily be misled. When he explores the nature of the concentration camp, he reminds us how easily the mind can be deluded, how illusory and ephemeral civilisation can be.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A book that changed lives 22 Jun 2006
Format:Hardcover
I well remember buying this book for myself, very soon after publication, back in 1974. The television series had amazed and enlightened me, and to have Dr Bronowski's words in my own hands seemed a great privilege. His clarity of thought and of explanation, and his overwhelming humanity made him a hero to me and a model for many imitators who followed.

Quite simply, this was a landmark book and one I treasure to this day. If some of the science has been overturned (and very little has) the essence is as vital as ever.

I intended giving this four stars, merely because it's over 30 years old and must surely have dated, but I see it hasn't at all, so I'm giving it five.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A remarkable time in history 22 May 2003
By bernie TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
Nowadays many different books have been written to explain the unfolding of humans and civilization. This book covers many great products and inventors instead of all the great wars. In the 1970s this was unique to the public. And this book is the template for those to follow.
The contents include:
' Lower than the Angles (evolution of the head)
' The Harvest of the Seasons (the pace of cultural evolution)
' The Grain in the Stone (blood group evidence of migration)
' The Hidden Structure (fire)
' The Music of the Spheres (the language of numbers)
' The Starry Messenger (the cycle of seasons)
' The majestic Clockwork (Kepler's laws)
' The Drive for Power (Everyday technology)
' The ladder of Creation (are other formulas of life possible?)
' World Within World (the periodic table)
' Knowledge of Certainty (There is no absolute knowledge)
' Generation upon generation (cloning of identical forms)
' The Long Childhood (The commitment of man)
I have the original hardback book, reference book, and study guide. The local library still has the original videotapes. You have to be an institution to purchase them. This is a humanities course at the local collage. An added plus was getting to actually go through the Watts Towers as a kid. This work does rings around "Connections" by James Burke ISBN: 0316116726 because it is the story of the people behind the connections.
I am not saying that this book replaces others, but that it has more to say with out resorting to today's sound byte system of writing.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic
This book is great. I got the sensation of re-remembering lots of little things I'd learnt at school but had long forgotton. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Mr. D. Meehan
5.0 out of 5 stars Good
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Published 2 months ago by D D R Macqueen-hewitt
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
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Published 2 months ago by ALEXANDER McCUTCHEON
5.0 out of 5 stars Ascent of Man,
A wonderful series of lectures which should be available in all middle age schools, I heard them years ago and rtought they had been lost but with the digital recording done by the... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Patrick.Lennard Payne
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the earliest great television communicators.
Bronowski had an advanced mind and the capacity to make his profound learning available, with understanding. to ordinary minds - like mine. Read more
Published 11 months ago by David Crowley - Corbeau
5.0 out of 5 stars Standing the test of time
An inspirational read. As relevant now as it was 40 years ago. Profound, insightful and with a foundation of optimism that nourishes the heart and mind.
Published 16 months ago by Dr P
5.0 out of 5 stars The ascent of man
I watched this series in the seventies and also have the hardback book. It is fantastic Bronowski makes science accessible, I absolutely recommend it.
Published 16 months ago by Annie48
5.0 out of 5 stars SUPERB!!!
If your interested in social history and the future of humanity this is a must read.
Better still, get the dvd collection.
Published 18 months ago by J A Wood
5.0 out of 5 stars GENIUS AT WORK
This book is a brilliant set of 'essays' that accompanied the BBC TV series in 1973. Bronowski evaluates the development of man's understanding of the world in terms of scientific... Read more
Published 21 months ago by Brian Vince
5.0 out of 5 stars A Timeless Work of Genius
Like CS Lewis, Bronowski possesses the priceless talent of being able to make the complex simple. And, like CS Lewis, Bronowski produced his book to be used as a series of... Read more
Published 21 months ago by Robert Bottamley
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