jared diamond has a new book out: The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies?

it gets a very favorable review in the guardian. here’s a taste of what’s in it:

“Diamond has studied traditional societies in Africa, Asia, South and North America and the Arctic, but most of his analysis comes from his observations of his old scientific stamping grounds in New Guinea, a process that has not been without its tribulations. Several years ago, Diamond met a tribesman called Daniel Wemp who said he had organised a clan war in New Guinea to avenge the death of an uncle….

“The issue of vengeance is central to Diamond’s book. In the west, when a person is robbed or injured in an attack, the state – in the form of the police – take responsibility for tracking and punishing the culprit. Traditional societies take a very different approach. Minor offences are normally settled by payment of compensation – the pig is the traditional currency in New Guinea – or by holding a feast to signal the re-establishment of friendly relations. For more serious offences, including murder, a family will seek to make alliances with others to help track down and kill their relative’s murderer. This usually triggers an identical response from the murdered murderer’s family and the process is repeated. The west’s depersonalised system of justice looks a lot better from this perspective.”

well, looks like i’m gonna have to buy the book. d*mn! (~_^)

see also: Vengeance is Ours: What can tribal societies tell us about our need to get even? [pdf]

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