Top positive review
4 people found this helpful
A great idea rendered as an enjoyable read.
on 26 April 2012
A really great read. And if that sounds like a lame comment, just bear in mind the subject matter. All too often these mainstream, well marketed polemical tomes are great as ideas, but once bought, soon become like chewing through dangerously sticky toffee: a bit of a gooey challenge. Not Wired For Culture. This is a really enjoyable book, and a high-scorer for its accessibility. Yes, it's got some interesting, unique ideas to discuss, but it's all done via a thoroughly engaging voice. And, what's more, within the first few pages you'll be looking at the world around you differently. Which is no bad thing.
Wired For Culture is, as the title hints, about the increasingly complex and inter-reliant relationship of man and culture. It's an interesting idea: what came first, the new-born baby who will think culture into action; or the amorphous presence of a thing called culture, which will define that baby's personality, behaviour, opinions, and ultimately guide it through its life?
In the prologue, Pagel compares culture to a virus: an independent entity which latches onto us in order to survive; using people as carriers, allowing it to move on to 'infect' greater numbers of hosts. And if culture has become so crucial to our surviving/navigating/evolving society, were we always physiologically programmed to accept culture? Or, has culture, over time, changed us - refashioned us to accept it more simply?
Broken down into four specific parts, Pagel seeks to explore what culture is and how it came to be; what it demands of us; how those demands are met; and how (and indeed, whether) culture is a necessary part of our continued existence as a species. The book asks why it is that the difference of a nationality can make all the difference in terms of what culture demands - and what that says about culture itself. And how is it that culture pulls together and feeds and exploits so many, otherwise basic, human actions. In short, Pagel gets the reader to really think about what culture actually is... and how it has become as intrinsic as food to our everyday lives.
If all that sounds a bit highfalutin don't worry - it isn't. Far from it. Wired For Culture is far from dense or dull... but it could have been, had Pagel not rendered these otherwise complex ideas to be so accessible. In fact, Wired For Culture is a genuinely engaging read.
Highly recommended - for all.