As you know, I often praise the great, well-illustrated books of the British publisher Dorling Kindersley. Their Eyewitness travel guides are among my favorites. Full of beautiful illustrations of all types – photographs, drawings, paintings – their books are particularly accessible to young people, but also usually sophisticated enough to teach us old-timers a thing or two. And their visual power always keeps you engaged.
One of the most ambitious of their books is Human: Origins, Body, Mind, Culture, Peoples (Dorling Kindersley, 2006) which aims to at least touch on each science and study related to humans. Not only does this full-color 500 page book completely describe the body and how it works, it covers human evolution, memory, thinking, emotion, language, the lifecycle from birth to death, economics and sociology, religion, clothing, and the tribes and peoples of the world. Whew! That’s a lot to fit into any book, and if you are deeply interested in any one of these subjects, you can do better than this book. But if you have only a passing interest in one of these fields, or no depth of knowledge, this sure is a fun place to start.
Flipping through the book, I find articles on Muslim weddings, personality traits, nature vs. nurture, how our memory stores information in our heads, the process of childbirth, what the liver looks like and how it works, Hindu funerals, banks and money, how military states work, Sikhism, the Russian language, Arabic script, the story of the Comanche, and all about the Kurds and Mongols. Again, whew!
So if you like to flip through a book like I do, to nibble on it, or if you know someone younger who would enjoy or benefit from exposure to a flood of ideas related to humans and humanity, this book would be hard to beat. And I have to add that the publisher has created very similar, equally colorful, volumes entitled Animal and Earth. You can guess how thorough and cool those two are.







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