BLACK WIDOW: The Tightly Tangled Web by Nathan Edmonson and Phil Noto feels like the creators are shooting for the gritty tone of the Daniel Craig bond films, but they also replicate most of the stuff I dislike about Craig films—bland, forgettable villains and missions that don’t have much point. And because this is part of a long-running arc, the emotional aspects—Natasha becoming increasingly isolated—don’t pay off enough to interest me. Mediocre.
THE WORLD UNTIL YESTERDAY: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies by Jared Diamond mercifully does not assume that we made a disastrous mistake when we left behind the hunter/gatherer lifestyle (“People today who leave traditional societies say there are multiple gains, such as better medical care, escaping constant violence and seeing fewer children die.”) or assuming that “traditional society” is a one-size-fits-all description. Diamond looks at the differences between modern and traditional and between different traditions to see how various cultures deal with war, assault, children (“In New Guinea I’ve seen a two-year-old playing with a nine-inch knife and nobody tries to take it away.”), trade and aging. Some of the chapters are canned (the difference between traditional and modern diet) and the recommendations often are too (talk to people in the flesh! Eat healthier! Slow down!) but the book is still thought provoking for showing that what we think is the normal way to live may not be (“Hunter-gatherer children don’t play competitive games or keep scores to determine winners—instead the games emphasize the need to share and cooperate.”). However it is odd how Diamond doesn’t touch upon gender issues, sex, marriage or love except in passing (the role of intermarriage between tribes affecting tribal feuds and wars for instance)—that’s a really glaring omission. Well worth the time, though (all rights to cover image to current holder)