Humans A brief history of how we f----d it all up

Tom Phillips

Book - 2019

Modern humans have come a long way in the seventy thousand years they've walked the earth. Art, science, culture, trade -- on the evolutionary food chain, we're true winners. But it hasn't always been smooth sailing, and sometimes -- just occasionally -- we've managed to truly f*ck things up. Weaving together history, science, politics and pop culture, Phillips offers a panoramic exploration of humankind in all its glory, or lack thereof. From Lucy, our first ancestor, who fell out of a tree and died, to General Zhou Shou of China, who stored gunpowder in his palace before a lantern festival, to the Austrian army attacking itself one drunken night, to the most spectacular fails of the present day, this book reveals how e...ven the most mundane mistakes can shift the course of civilization as we know it.

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Location Call Number   Status
2nd Floor 904/Phillips Checked In
Toronto, Ontario, Canada : Hanover Square Press 2019.
Main Author
Tom Phillips (author)
Item Description
In the title, the word "fucked" appears with "ucke" crossed out.
Originally published: Great Britain : Wildfire, 2018.
Physical Description
282 pages : illustrations, map ; 23 cm
Includes bibliographical references and index.
  • Prologue: The Dawn of Fuck-Ups
  • 1. Why Your Brain Is an Idiot
  • 2. Nice Environment You've Got Here
  • 3. Life, Uh, Finds a Way
  • 4. Follow the Leader
  • 5. People Power
  • 6. War. Huh. What Is ft Good For?
  • 7. Super Happy Fun Colonialism Party
  • 8. A Dummies' and/or Current Presidents' Guide to Diplomacy
  • 9. The Shite Heat of Technology
  • 10. A Brief History of Not Seeing Things Coming
  • Epilogue: Fucking Up the Future
  • Acknowledgments
  • Further Reading
  • Picture Credits
  • About the Author
  • Index
Review by Booklist Review

No matter how many challenges we conquer, catastrophe is always lurking just around the corner. That's the crux of journalist and humorist Phillips' schadenfreude-laced paean to human incompetence, which finds that our capacity for creativity and communication sets us apart from other species but can also lead to terrible decisions and disastrous, unforeseen consequences. With chapters like Why Your Brain Is an Idiot and Nice Environment You've Got Here, Phillips catalogs various cognitive failures that have continually led humanity astray confirmation bias, the Dunning-Kruger effect, prejudice and ridicules thousands of years of intellectual, political, and social screw-ups. Chapter-ending listicles like 5 of the Weirdest Manias in History and 7 Amazing Sights You'll Never See, Because Humans Ruined Them add extra acidity to the mixture. Cheeky and vulgar yet surprisingly erudite, the book is like Yuval Noah Harari's Sapiens (2015) retold by a standup comedian a few drinks in. Phillips is not bashful about deploying unprintable profanity for the sake of emphasis and humor, making this ideal for readers in the mood for a laugh so you don't cry approach to human history.--Chad Comello Copyright 2019 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

It's an article of faith and certainty among many humanistic circles that the enterprise of our species has been one of continual progress, to which London-based humorist Phillips replies, bollocks.It's been a mess ever since our protohominid arboreal ancestor, Lucy, fell out of a tree and died only to have her bones discovered in the 1970s and become a star of paleontology: "And yet," writes the author, "the only reason we know about her is because, bluntly, she fucked up." According to Phillips, humans are particularly good at this, and instances of error outweigh our better achievements. The author's approach is spirited and goofy, and though the fault-finding can seem excessive at times, you've got to enjoy a book that explores weird manias (including "outbreaks of panic that malign forces are stealing or shrinking men's penises") and misguided actions like introducing a potentially species-hopping virus to kill off the rabbits that humans introduced to Australia in the first place. Phillips can go obscure at the drop of a hat, as when he writes of the sultanship of Ahmed I of the Ottoman Empire and the brother-to-brother succession that followed his premature death: "It's fair to say that this did not go well." The author moves easily from subject to subject, and he does have a point: Some of our best-laid plans quickly go awry. A good example is the endless built-in struggle of democracy to balance tyrannies of the minority and keep from "sliding into autocracy," and it's undeniable, unless you benefit from denial, that we've made an incredible mess of the planet and are pretending things are OK "when instead we should probably be running around in a panic like our house was on fire, whichit sort of is."Al Gore by way of Monty Python. Readers should be aware of the F-bomb throughout, but otherwise we should all be hanging our heads in shame, lifting them for a frequent chuckle. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.