A Brief Natural History of Civilization Why a Balance Between Cooperation & Competition Is Vital to Humanity Mark Bertness

Publication date:
23 Jun 2020
Yale University Press
320 pages: 235 x 156mm
47 b-w illus.
Sales territories:

Offering a bold new understanding of who we are, where we came from, and where we are going, noted ecologist Mark Bertness argues that human beings and their civilization are the products of the same self-organization, evolutionary adaptation, and natural selection processes that have created all other life on Earth. Bertness follows the evolutionary process from the primordial soup of two billion years ago through today, exploring the ways opposing forces of competition and cooperation have led to current assemblages of people, animals, and plants.
Bertness’s thoughtful examination of human history from the perspective of natural history provides new insights about why and how civilization developed as it has and explores how humans, as a species, might have to consciously overrule our evolutionary drivers to survive future challenges.

Mark Bertness is Robert P. Brown Professor of Biology emeritus at Brown University. A widely published and highly regarded marine ecologist, he is best known for his work on the community ecology of marine shorelines. He lives in Warren, RI and Melide, Switzerland.

“Starting from ecological and evolutionary principles that transcend our own species, Mark Bertness offers a new perspective on the rise of human civilization.”—Judith Bronstein, editor of Mutualism

"A Brief Natural History of Civilization is a splendid foray from the cosmos to the interconnectedness of earth’s biota and the human experience—it uses our natural history as revealed by science to frame the peril and promise of our times."—Paul Ewald, author of Plague Time: The New Germ Theory of Disease