Transcendence: How Humans Evolved Through Fire, Language, Beauty, and Time
by Gaia Vince
***Shortlisted for the 2020 Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize***
“I wrote this book to answer what, for me, is the biggest question: how did we become so different from all the other animals—able to alter our own destiny and that of the rest of life on earth?” —Gaia Vince.
Read our interview with Gaia Vince—whose last book, Adventures in the Anthropocene, won the 2015 Royal Society Science Book Prize—on the best books on the Anthropocene.
Recommendations from our site
“Transcendence was my favourite science book this year. I studied history in the UK and learned how and when the Tudors came to power, but never how and when humans started, which, as an adult, seems to me a much more important piece of historical information. Gaia Vince is a science journalist, and this is a really fabulous summary of the entire history of the human race, starting with the Big Bang (as she points out, Our genesis is a story of physics, chemistry and biology). It chronicles when we started using fire, when we started talking, the role of beauty, how we started keeping time. She also makes predictions about where we might be going, and while the book ends up on an upbeat note, some of that was slightly chilling. The book is quite a dense read—there’s a lot of science to cover—but lightened by little introductory stories at the beginning of each chapter.” Read more...
The Best Nonfiction Books of 2020
Sophie Roell, Journalist
“This is fascinating and all-encompassing view of evolution from the beginning of the human species to what we are today. It focuses particularly on evolution through fire, language, beauty and time. It’s intelligently and thoroughly researched, with an impressive body of publications and reading being covered. Gaia Vince has lived in three different countries and visited over 60. This comes through as she draws on her experience in various ways. She speaks with authority.” Read more...
The Best Science Books of 2020: The Royal Society Book Prize
Anne Osbourn, Biologist
Our most recommended books
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Darwin: The Life of a Tormented Evolutionist
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The Extended Phenotype
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Ways of Knowing: A New History of Science, Technology, and Medicine
by John Pickstone
The book, according to the author