A New York Times Bestseller
A Harper’s Bazaar Pick
First there was the word. Or was there?
Before Tom Wolfe was a bestselling novelist, he was a groundbreaking journalist. Now the maestro storyteller turns his attention to the mystery behind the creation of hiw own most important tool.
In The Kingdom of Speech, Wolfe makes the captivating, paradigm-shifting argument that speech—not evolution—is responsible for humanity’s complex societies and achievements. From Alfred Russel Wallace, the self-taught Englishman who beat Charles Darwin to the theory of natural selection but later renounced it for its inability to explain human speech, to the neo-Darwinists, who for years argued that there is a language “organ” in the human brain, Wolfe explains how science has repeatedly tried and failed to account for man’s gift of gab.
Flash forward to the present day and the controversial work of another outsider, anthropologist Daniel Everett. After thirty years of studying a tribe isolated deep in the jungles of the Amazon, Everett revealed a people whose prehistoric level of speech had led to a society without religion, ceremonies, hierarchies, marriage, or ornaments, and without the ability to plan ahead or to consider a past beyond personal lifetimes, thus defying the current wisdom that language is hardwired in humans.
With trenchant wit and uproarious humor, Wolfe cracks open the secretive, solemn, long-faced, laugh-out-loud zigzags of Darwinism, both old and neo-, and he shows the endless importance of the courageous outsider in overturning our most cherished ideas about ourselves. Provocative and fast-paced, this is a tour de force from Wolfe.
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