When did societies become modern? ‘Big history’ dashes popular idea of Axial Age (review of Seshat History of the Axial Age) by Laura Spinney, Nature
It’s an idea that has been influential for more than 200 years: around the middle of the first millennium BC, humanity passed through a psychological watershed and became modern. This ‘Axial Age’ transformed an archaic world of divine rulers, slavery and human sacrifice into a more enlightened era that valued social justice, family values and the rule of law. The appeal of the general concept is such that some have claimed humanity is now experiencing a second Axial Age driven by rapid population growth and technological change. Yet according to the largest ever cross-cultural survey of historical and archaeological data, the first of these ages never happened — or at least unfolded differently from the originally proposed narrative.
This isn’t rocket science (Review of Ultrasociety) by Tom Wolfe, Evolutionary Anthropology
“Peter Turchin’s Ultra Society lurches back to the microevolution analogy. Here the driving force in human cultural history is intergroup competition, meaning war. Thus, history will be reducible to military tactics, technology to weaponry, and culture to its EurAsian cutting edge. Turchin’s argument is that a proper naturalistic, biological, evolutionary view shows that the modern, cooperative world is the unintended consequence of the history of war, the most obvious form of competition between groups. How so? ‘By eliminating poorly coordinated, uncooperative, and dysfunctional states it creates more cooperative, more peaceful, and more affluent ones.'”
Review of Ultrasociety by Anders Klostergaard Petersen, Journal of Cognitive Historiography
“Ultrasociety is written with élan and elegance, and the argument presented by the author is new and thoughtprovoking. Contrary to other scholars in the field, Turchin accentuates war as the fundamental evolutionary driver. This may sound excessively hideous and cynical to readers, but Turchin sophisticatedly and persuasively develops his argument throughout the book.”
A Dynamic Analysis of American Socio-Political History. A Review of Ages of Discord: A Structural Demographic Analysis of American History by Peter Turchin (Beresta Books, 2016) by Peter J. Richerson, Cliodynamics
“These days it is a commonplace of news and opinion pieces that politics in the United States has become more polarized over the past half century. A few of these commentators note that the present scene resembles the years just before the Civil War. No one I have read or heard has a sensible causal account of this pattern, with the exception of Turchin’s Age of Discord (AD). AD applies his and colleagues’ Structural-Demographic Theory (SDT) to understanding the political history of the United States 1780–present.”
Review of Ultrasociety by Ian Morris, Evolutionary Studies in Imaginative Culture
“In this ambitious, learned, and valuable book, biologist-turned-historian Peter Turchin addresses three big topics, which he defines as “the evolution of cooperation, the destructive and creative faces of war, and the strange trajectory of human egalitarianism” (230). His main goal is to explain the undeniable fact that humans are ultrasocial. Following the biologist Edward O. Wilson, he calls this the ability to “cooperate in large groups of genetically unrelated individuals” (14), and argues that “it was violence—societies making war on each other—that drove the evolution of ultrasociality, and it was ultrasociality that ultimately made violence decline” (219).”
Współpraca to dziecko wojny by Piotr Tryjanowski, Forum Akademickie
“Ultrasociety to jedna z pierwszych analiz powstałych dzięki wykorzystaniu coraz popularniejszego podejścia badawczego nazywanego eksploracją Big Data. Rzecz jasna komputery wyłącznie wspomagają analizy, zaś idea rodzi się w głowie badacza. Turchin ma swoją idée fixe, że wojny są ważniejsze od rolnictwa, bo to one mają rozleglejsze czasowo i przestrzennie konsekwencje. Wspólne życie na farmie pomaga w powstaniu wspólnoty, lecz naprawdę scala dopiero wspólne stawiane czoła napastnikom, walka o zasoby – pokarm, wodę, prestiż i partnerki do rozrodu, a przede wszystkim o życie.”
Applied Mathematics and Political Crisis (Review of Ages of Discord) by Richard H. Burkhart, Siam News
Peter Turchin, an exemplary interdisciplinary professor and scholar, has set out to remedy this scarcity of mathematical history using classic applied mathematics and solid historical data, and none too soon. His latest book, Ages of Discord: A Structural-Demographic Analysis of American History, is a warning shot across the bow of the U.S. ship of state – that dangerous shoals and storms lie dead ahead, with huge swells already rocking the boat.
Breaking point: America approaching a period of disintegration, argues anthropologist Peter Turchin (Review of Ages of Discord) by Paul Rosenberg, Salon
As the 2016 campaign reaches fever pitch, the more heat there is and the less light is shed. Which is why evolutionary anthropologist Peter Turchin’s new book comes as such a breath of fresh air. “Ages of Discord: A Structural-Demographic Analysis of American History” is not about this year’s presidential election, per se, but it’s a quantum leap forward in illuminating the disintegrative trends that America has experienced over the last several decades that are currently driving our politics.
Review of “Ultrasociety: How 10,000 Years of War Made Humans the Greatest Cooperators on Earth” by Cameron Murray, The Evolution Institute
Professor Turchin’s new book Ultrasociety identifies the causal mechanisms hidden in the twists and turns of human civilisation by quantifying the rise and fall of empires. The book translates some of Turchin’s academic work on cliodynamics, making it accessible to the interested lay reader.
Ultrasociety (book review) by Arthur Lyon Dahl, International Environmental Forum
Peter Turchin continues his scientific exploration of history and the rise and fall of civilizations in his new book: Ultrasociety. I have previously reviewed his 2006 book War and Peace and War and his significant paper published in Nature in 2010 Political instability may be a contributor in the coming decade which warned of the kind of problems we see emerging in many countries today and which predicted a major crisis by 2020.
Review of Ultra Society: how 10,000 years of war made humans the greatest cooperators on earth, Beresta Books, LCC, Connecticut, 2016 by Peter Turchin by Mark Koyama, Journal of Bioeconomics
Ultra Society is the most recent book by Peter Turchin, the polymath evolutionary scientist, and author of numerous scholarly and popular works on cultural and social evolution. Let me begin the review by stating that Turchin is one of the most underrated scholars in the social sciences and that, like everything else he has written, Ultra Society is replete with insights and is an enjoyable and worthwhile read.
Quantitative Analysis of Movement: Measuring and Modeling Population Redistribution in Animals and Plants. Peter Turchin by Jeannette Yen, The Quarterly Review of Biology