Having long had a passing interest in Anthropology and the reasons world cultures are so different, I bought this book based on its good jacket reviews and its' having won the Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction in the U.S. The author has done the layreader a great service by masterfully synthesizing the knowledge gathered in the last decades in fields as diverse as agribiology, sociology, paleontology and just about everything else. His simple mission is to describe how mankind developed on all five continents based on simple principles of climate, geography, access to diverse plant and animal species and, once 'cilvilizations' emerged, their internal forces. The result is the Ultimate Sim-City, an understandable history of the world as we know it. It takes centuries of race-based history and renders it ludicrous. By learning how the Earth's different societies and cultures were logical reflections of the building blocks available to them, I, like perhaps most readers, saw the past and present in an entirely new way (especially now that the societies of Western Asia and 'The West' are considering war of some kind as I write this). The book concentrates often on the South Pacific because of its incredible social diversity and the author's own experience, but those wondering 'How China became Chinese' or 'How Africa became black' or why the Spaniards sailed to the Incas and not the other way around, will find fascinating, logical answers. I highly recommend this book. I plan to buy other works from the author once I post this review.