Via Auster, I find that Michael H. Hart has made Understanding Human History freely downloadable here. Auster’s review is here, Sailer’s is here, Tyler Cowen compares Greg Clark’s Farewell to Alms to it here and Arnold Kling discusses it here.

Just finished the book. Hart is not as good a writer as Diamond, making his book come of as “just a bunch of stuff that happens”. His comparison of the New World to sub-Saharan Africa is an excellent attack on Diamond’s theories though. I was surprised by how little time he spent on his own people, the jews (and more specifically Ashkenazi) given that in the final chapters he declares that his thesis is about peoples with high IQs and jews are at the top of that heap. It is also interesting that jews violate his general rule of higher IQ peoples coming from the north (not only were jews originally just a normal semitic people from the middle east, but they cluster with southern europeans genetically). It is also interesting how little attention he pays to the Industrial Revolution compared to Greg Clark who considers it “the one event that happened in history”, to put it most crudely. There is a lot of information in the book I didn’t know before, some of which is just his conjecture but still interesting conjecture, and if you wanted all of human history in one book you could do worse.

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