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Tamim Ansary discusses The Invention of Yesterday
Wednesday, November 6, 7:30pm
Pegasus Books Downtown
Tamim Ansary discusses and signs copies of The Invention of Yesterday: A 50,000-Year History of Human Culture, Conflict, and Connection.
From language to culture to cultural collision: the story of how humans invented history, from the Stone Age to the Virtual Age
Traveling across millennia, weaving the experiences and world views of cultures both extinct and extant, The Invention of Yesterday shows that the engine of history is not so much heroic (battles won), geographic (farmers thrive), or anthropogenic (humans change the planet) as it is narrative.
Many thousands of years ago, when we existed only as countless small autonomous bands of hunter-gatherers widely distributed through the wilderness, we began inventing stories--to organize for survival, to find purpose and meaning, to explain the unfathomable. Ultimately these became the basis for empires, civilizations, and cultures. And when various narratives began to collide and overlap, the encounters produced everything from confusion, chaos, and war to cultural efflorescence, religious awakenings, and intellectual breakthroughs.
Through vivid stories studded with insights, Tamim Ansary illuminates the world-historical consequences of the unique human capacity to invent and communicate abstract ideas. In doing so, he also explains our ever-more-intertwined present: the narratives now shaping us, the reasons we still battle one another, and the future we may yet create.
"A beautifully written world history focused on the stories different civilizations have told about who we are. It ends with a fundamental question: In today's extraordinary world, can we build new narratives that are inclusive and global enough to encourage worldwide cooperation in the task of building a better future for humanity?"―David Christian, distinguished professor, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia, and author of Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History and Origin Story: A Big History of Everything
"Tamim Ansary has done it again, writing an expansive, wonderfully readable account of our present world. With deft examples drawn from across history, he skewers the idea that there's anything pure about culture or race. Ideas have blended and meshed across space and time to make the modern world what it is. Ansary is a charming guide to this blesh of civilizations, and to the world's permanent-and hopeful-capacity for change."―Raj Patel, author of Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System
"Brimming with essential insights and yet always approachable, this is the global history we need now."―Lynn Hunt, author of Writing History in the Global Era
"Weaving together multiple complex strands of the human experience into a single compelling storyline, Ansary delivers-in his usual down-to-earth yet erudite style-an engaging global 'narrative of narratives' informed by decades of critical study, reflection, and personal transcultural experience. A deeply enriching, highly relevant read from an important, unique voice of our day."―R. Charles Weller, Central Eurasian and Islamic world history, Washington State and Kazakh National University
"The Invention of Yesterday is an insightful guide into human civilization packed with information that shows how we have been connected globally since the beginning of history. Tamim Ansary unpacks complicated theories to make sense of how we became who we are today."―Fariba Nawa, author of Opium Nation: Child Brides, Drug Lords and One Woman's Journey through Afghanistan
"Ansary offers a remarkable big-picture synthesis that draws upon geography but resists determinism, and celebrates diversity while embracing humanity's commonalities."―Booklist
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tamim Ansary is the author of Destiny Disrupted and Games without Rules, among other books. For ten years he wrote a monthly column for Encarta.com, and has published essays and commentary in the San Francisco Chronicle, Salon, Alternet, TomPaine.com, Edutopia, Parade, Los Angeles Times, and elsewhere. He has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show, Bill Moyers, PBS The News Hour, Al Jazeera, and NPR. Born in Afghanistan in 1948, he moved to the U.S. in 1964. He lives in San Francisco.