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The Ascent of Man

The Ascent of Man

Jacob Bronowski


Often described as one of the classics of our times, this is a book of essays charting the various stages in the author's conception of the intellectual evolution of humanity. In a sense it should be compared to Civilisation, Kenneth Clarke's history of art: a personal selection of important events.

Bronowski's is a selection few would argue with, but he adds interest through his own personal acquaintanceship with some of the characters involved: Einstein, Born, and (most interestingly) von Neumann. His take on early history had probably been overtaken by some of modern anthropology, but his analysis of the industrial revolution is fascinating, as is his central thesis that the main agent of progress is simply the desire of the craftsman to improve his craft, beyond any real pressure for improvement coming from outside.

3/5. Finished 05 January 2014.

(Originally published on Goodreads.)

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