Reviews

Reviews

"Joseph Henrich . . . offers a compelling and comprehensive answer in his exceptional new book The Secret of Our Success: How Culture is Driving Human Evolution, Domesticating Our Species, and Making Us Smarter. It is an intellectual tour-de-force that offers an overview for the field of cultural evolution."
—Joe Brewer, This View of Life blog
 
"Limber and lucid."
— Barbara Kiser, Nature "Books in Brief"
 
"In The Secret of Our Success, Henrich . . . draws on the latest findings in anthropology, linguistics, behavioral economics and psychology, and evolutionary biology, to present a provocative alternative to the standard narrative about evolution. . . . Henrich’s book is immensely ambitious, informative, and important."
—Glenn Altschuler, Psychology Today
 
"Mind-stretching. . . . Henrich’s book will take you on a prodigious journey through human nature and society."
—Alun Anderson, New Scientist
 
"[I]ntriguing and paradoxical."
—Brian Gallagher, Nautilus
 
"Culture sits upon a foundation of genetics and biology but is separate from it. Joseph Henrich wanted to upend this conventional narrative. . . . The implications of this new, continuing narrative for the way we think about people, societies, and even companies are both subtle and significant."
—David K. Hurst, Strategy + Business
 
"[A] pleasure for the biologically and scientifically inclined."
 
"The Secret of Our Success is a tour-de-force and a significant advancement of social science."
 
"Henrich posits a unique approach to understanding human behavior, not in purely evolutionary terms, but as a process of cultural evolution."
 
"I thought I understood cultural evolution. But in his new book, The Secret of Our Success, Joseph Henrich schooled me. I felt like I learned more from his book than from the last dozen books I’ve read."
—Robin Hanson, Overcoming Bias blog
 
" [C]hallenges commonly-held assumptions... The reading is long, but worth every page."
—Pedro De Abreu, on Medium
 
 

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Endorsements

"Social science is at the cusp of a revolution, incorporating a better understanding of how our capabilities and culture have evolved and how the interplay of social and political choices shape human experiences. Joseph Henrich has been at the forefront of this more holistic social science. In this wonderfully readable book, Henrich shows how our species is special and how our practices, beliefs, and instincts have emerged because of our cultural learning. This must-read book will be cherished and consulted for its ideas and insights.”
—Daron Acemoglu, coauthor of Why Nations Fail
 
A delightful and engaging expedition into and all around the many different processes of genetic and cultural evolution that have made humans such ‘a puzzling primate.’”
—Michael Tomasello, codirector of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
 
“Joseph Henrich has written a magnificent book. With verve and clarity he sets out a compelling theory of the interactions between genes and culture, and defends the theory with a remarkable range of evidence from fields as varied as history, primatology, neuroscience, and the science of sport. This book provides an enthralling account of the secret of our success.
—Stephen Stich, Rutgers University
 
“The Secret of Our Success provides a valuable new perspective on major issues in human evolution and behavior. Bringing together topics from such diverse areas as economics, psychology, neuroscience, and archaeology, this book will provoke vigorous debates and will be widely read.”
—Alex Mesoudi, Durham University
 
“Is the ability to acquire highly evolved culture systems like languages and technologies the secret of humans’ success as a species? This book convinces us that the answer is emphatically ‘yes.’  Moving beyond the sterile nature-nurture debates of the past, Joseph Henrich demonstrates that culture—as much a part of our biology as our legs—is an evolutionary system that works by tinkering with our innate capacities over time.”
—Peter J. Richerson, University of California, Davis
 
“In this accessible, authoritative book, Joseph Henrich explains why culture is essential for understanding human evolution. It is a must-read for anybody curious about why we are the way we are.”
—Robert Boyd, coauthor of How Humans Evolved