The Fates of Nations: A Biological Theory of History

Colinvaux, Paul A.

In the last few thousand years, humans have so increased in population that we have almost overrun the earth. We have drastically changed our style of living - from humble hunters to civilized humans. And we have watched history repeat itself as one emergent people after another has expanded against its neighbors and lived on in splendor and freedom until it, too, slid away into ignominious eclipse. Paul Colinvaux, Professor of Zoology at Ohio State University and the author of the widely acclaimed Why Big Fierce Animals Are Rare, brilliantly argues here that these changes in number and life-style do not come from victory in battle. They come from success at breeding. In fact, Professor Colinvaux shows that the fates of whole peoples may be explained if we understand how they breed and change their habits over time. With its publication, The Fates of Nations joins the ranks of those revolutionary books - such as E. O. Wilson's Sociobiology and Desmond Morris's The Naked Ape - that have shown us new and exciting ways to understand human history. As Justin Blackwelder, President of the Environmental Fund, said of it, "It is not often that a book can be both important and immensely readable". Moreover, it is an elegant book, one that demystifies some of the cataclysmic episodes of our past - from the battles of Alexander the Great to the invasions of Genghis Khan to modern territorial shifts in Europe. And from there, it shows us how we can look into our own future, tremulously perhaps, but with some conviction, at the sorts of things that are likely to happen to all mankind in the next few centuries.

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