** Blueprint by Nicholas Christakis

I’m not sure I quite understood what the author of Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society was trying to accomplish. He starts by a lengthy review of shipwrecks, arguing that the surviving crews can be good models of what human societies can look like. I would beg to differ, and he opines that crews tend to be young, male, and fit, even as he continues his analysis.

He then presents a “social suite”, criteria he considers essential for good (meaning lasting and stable) societies. with not too much justification for the criteria, before proceeding to share examples taken from ethnographic studies (those poor Hadza, forever studied; I wonder if they have a “fool the anthropologist” set of tricks!) and classic psychology studies, along with many animal observations and studies.  With such a rich and long book, there are many interesting tales, but I wish the author did not try so hard to tie everything together into a grand theory.

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