The Ascent Of Man Paperback – 10 Mar 2011
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"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)
A new paperback edition of Dr Bronowski's classic history of humankind, with a foreword by Richard DawkinsSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.Read more ›
The book is an almost verbatim transcription of Bronowski's series which was notable for his clear, readily accessible explanations of seminal moments in the history of scientific progress right from the earliest exploits of primeval man, through to theoretical physics and the commencement of the exploration of space. Even more impressive was the fact that most of Bronowski's eloquent disquisitions were entirely unscripted.
Though his own discipline was that of mathematics, Bronowski displays an enviable ability to convey complicated subjects in a manner understood by the layman. He is not reluctant to take on some of the more complex and daunting subjects, but he manages to render even Einstein's theories of relativity into a sufficiently digestible form.
He shows great sensitivity throughout building each chapter through a series of simple, logical steps to give a concise history of the development of a different aspect of modern science. The book was published more than forty years ago, so the frontiers of research in each discipline have been pushed to lengths that Bronowski could not have foreseen. His book, however, remains surprisingly current because he focuses on scientific methodology and trends in innovative thought, all portrayed with a compelling directness and simplicity.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The Ascent of Man ( Bronowski)
Turn on any TV these days and there will be channels with one of more history or arts programmes. Read more
Excellent informative, well written book. Written in layperson language so would be a good read whatever your reading level. Read morePublished 6 months ago by russavis
A marvellous history of the human race with many little diversions about the problems of the early changemakers. I havent enjoyed a book so much for a long time. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Gabby
One of my favourite books and it is in good condition.I am very pleased with it.Published 8 months ago by scroobiose
I disliked Bronowski during his lifetime, he always seemed so aloof; thank goodness I have lived long enough to change my mind. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Mr. E. E. Gill