- Paperback: 512 pages
- Publisher: Arrow Books Ltd; New edition edition (4 Nov. 1993)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0099148110
- ISBN-13: 978-0099148111
- Package Dimensions: 19.4 x 13 x 3.4 cm
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,235,969 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors: A Search for Who We are Paperback – 4 Nov 1993
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From the Inside Flap
ng...A feast. Absorbing and elegantly written, it tells of theorigins of life on earth, describes its variety and charaacter, and culminates in a discussion of human nature and teh complex traces ofhumankind's evolutionary past...It is an amazing story masterfully told."<br>FINANCIAL TIMES (LONDON)<br>World renowned scientist Carl Sagan and acclaimed author Ann Druyan have written a ROOTS for the human species, a lucid and riveting account of how humans got to be the way we are. It shows with humor and drama that many of our key traits--self-awareness, technology, family ties, submission to authority, hatred for those a little different from ourselves, reason, and ethics--are rooted in the deep past, and illuminated by our kinship with other animals. Astonishing in its scope, brilliant in its insights, and an absolutely compelling read, SHADOWS OF FORGOTTEN ANCESTORS is a triumph of popular science.<br><br><br><i>From the Trade Paperback edition.</i> --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Carl Sagan served as the David Duncan Professor of Astronomy and Space Sciences and Director of the Laboratory for Planetary Studies at Cornell University. He played a leading role in the Mariner, Viking, Voyager, and Galileo spacecraft expeditions, for which he received the NASA Medals for Exceptional Scientific Achievement and (twice) for Distinguished Public Service.His Emmy- and Peabody-winning television series, Cosmos, became the most widely watched series in the history of American public television. The accompanying book, also called Cosmos, is one of the bestselling science books ever published in the English language. Dr. Sagan received the Pulitzer Prize, the Oersted Medal, and many other awards--including twenty honorary degrees from American colleges and universities--for his contributions to science, literature, education, and the preservation of the environment. In their posthumous award to Dr. Sagan of their highest honor, the National Science Foundation declared that his "research transformed planetary science . . . his gifts to mankind were infinite." Dr. Sagan died on December 20, 1996. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
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This book was one of the first I read that change my life as a scientist. It covers so many things about the world that we live in and what surround us.
Plus, it was written with the love of both Carl and Ann.
Amazing book if you are a curious person:)
Having read few of his books (this one I understand written with his wife), I found this one was a bit different than usual. Admitedly, I was expecting something different from the title but not sure what exactly, perhaps something mystical. This book is relatively purely centered on our direct ancestors that started to walk upright few million years ago. It mainly deals with evolution, DNA and biology.
Carl provides us with tons of anecdots and stories from experiments with chimps. This really works well in this book. Carl's language in this book can actually in some places be quite strong but always serves the purpose.
I particularly liked the parts dealing with the purpose of DNA. A well known biologist said smth like our bodies are simple shells to protect the fragile DNA chain of proteins and make it meet its end. I believe that is true.
Some very simple and naked truths come out of this book. For example Carl explains the behaviour in a group of chimps, what leaders do, etc. Carl related every little habits we have in everyday life to these long forgotten times when we were dwelling in caves. For example the exitment to have a sexual intercourse with a total stranger away from the tribe territory or comfort zone.
The 2/3 pages story on the alpha male in the middle of the book is really speaking to the reader.
In 2/3 pages, this summarises quite well our every day life. We like to think ourselves completely departed from that time of our evolution but we are not. We are still animals that hardly control their pulsions. Sagan explains all this very well.
I take it as understanding where we come from is a necessary step to improve our every day life and relations with others.
More negatively, I found the book had a disjointed structure and the rythm is not to my liking. Carl starts, comes back, insert a biography of Darwin for pages, etc. I think a bit more editing and re-reading would have restructured the book at bit better.
Overall, a very good book to try to understand "really" and simply where we come from.
After a description of DNA's development over the ages, he brings us to our nearest genetic neighbours, the primates. His section titled 'Some Sketches from Life' points up numerous behaviour patterns shared among us all. Communication, grief, vulnerability to illnesses, raising young - the list seems almost endless. The result is the replacement of our 'special status' by a clearer identity as a community of primates. Tell your friends that only 0.4% of our working genes and that of chimpanzees are different. If they dispute you, buy them a copy of this book and sit them down to read it. From the first page they will encounter mind opening ideas. Sagan stresses our kinship with other animals, and begs us all to 'stop pretending we're something we're not' - a dominant species with a mandate to rule the planet and its occupants.
Sagan handles the 'god' question with delicacy. Surprisingly, he makes no assault on deities, but gently goes over the history of life and what we've learned of its mechanisms. Humans who argue that 'consciousness' and the idea of a 'soul' are shown to be illusory. His final analysis simply outlines in brief detail how the process of life has evolved, concluding that deities are simply unnecessary [p. 472]. Read the book and suggest it to friends. Don't let it go, make them buy it. It belongs on your bookshelves. It belongs in everyone's library. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
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