Mark Moffett is a maverick...The Human Swarm is a book of wonders. –New Statesman An Amazon Editors’ Pick for a best history book Imagine an airport filled with strangers peacefully going about their business. Fill that airport with chimpanzees instead of humans, however, and panic is certain, carnage likely. How do we humans coexist harmoniously with people we don't know? Anthropologists studying the origins of human behavior have long turned to the chimpanzee for answers. The Human Swarm, however, goes where King Solomon once recommended: to the ant. The book suggests a simple explanation. In most species, the chimp included, every animal has to know every other member individually for a society to function. In ant societies, every worker is anonymous, a stranger, yet together they achieve extraordinary feats. Using ants and other species as a basis for comparison, Moffett distills the principles animating the anonymous societies of humans, revealing how friends and strangers alike interact based on signals given by such things as clothing, gestures, accents, beliefs—that mark their identity. Moffett shows that just a few other vertebrate species, such as the sperm whale and pinyon jay, employ such markers for identifying with a society. He turns to hunter-gatherers and archaeology to find out how and why anonymous societies evolved in humans. Combined with current findings from anthropology, psychology, sociology, and history, the principles he describes explain how, despite our fear of outsiders, human societies can be as grand as the Mayan empires or the United States. And why, regardless of our ability to board airplanes to other countries and even have foreign friends overseas, the societies of humans, like those of other creatures, remain separate—and in time weaken and fall apart. Moffett provides a new perspective on societies across nature and in humans right up to the present day. At a time when xenophobia is escalating into crises of group identity, The Human Swarm presents an urgently needed account of the forces that create and break human societies. Basic Books Amazon Local Booksellers Reviews “a remarkable intellectual achievement” “The Human Swarm is a remarkable intellectual achievement of sustained intensity, to be commended for navigating an important yet difficult area in between biology, psychology, sociology, economics, history, and philosophy.” —Quarterly Review of Biology “epic” “Mark Moffett’s book [falls] in the epic achievement category” —Forbes “mesmerizing…and uplifting perspective” —Financial Times “wide-ranging, deeply interesting …made my neurons pop” "A truer statement hasn’t been uttered: “Our “groupiness” shapes human history.” Mark Moffett’s book is a wide-ranging, deeply interesting analysis of how large numbers of individual agents become a society. His travels in the world and through vast intellectual landscapes give him a unique view of why we are the way we are, both in our similarity to other living beings and our differences from them – our ability to include once alien groups into our own, for example. There is no other book I’ve read recently that made my neurons pop at the rate this book did.” —Mahzarin Banaji, chair of psychology at Harvard and author of Blindspot “[An] enticing whirlwind tour” “[An] enticing whirlwind tour of the fascinating patterns of behaviour and structures of societies revealed through the varied lives of people and animals across the globe.” —Nature A great book “for thinking about how we got into this mess” —New York Times (Amy Tan, author of The Joy Luck Club and The Bonesetter’s Daughter) “theories of how and why human societies evolved” "Moffett looks at traditional theories of how and why human societies evolved—because Homo sapiens can deliberate, coordinate, and collaborate—and proposes an even more fundamental reason: humans’ distinctive manner of establishing identities.” —Harvard Magazine “Extraordinary!” “Extraordinary! I am amazed to follow Mark Moffett's thoughts and knowledge and take a mental trips that goes within a span of seconds from ants to Michael Corleone.” —Isabella Rossellini, actress who explores animal behavior “have your mind changed” “This is a book of amazing ideas, many of them counterintuitive. Mark Moffett's astounding stories of animal societies persuaded me that the future of human cities have been foretold by the ants. Read this manifesto if you like to have your mind changed.” —Kevin Kelly, founder of Wired magazine, futurist, and author of The Inevitable and What Technology Wants “one jaw-dropping revelation after another” "The Human Swarm is surely the most accurate, most comprehensive, most original explanation of our social existence that we're ever likely to see, one jaw-dropping revelation after another, most of them astonishing, all of them fascinating. It’s true without question, which seems obvious as you’re reading, and it’s very well written—a joy to read.” —Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, author of The Harmless People and A Million Years with You “intriguing” “Homo sapiens is a small-group social animal that physically seems to be limited to personal relationships with a few individuals. Nonetheless humanity is struggling to deal with societies of billions as human technologies now pose existential threats tied to those numbers. In The Human Swarm Mark Moffett presents an intriguing overview of the biological roots and cultural evolution of this now-critical situation.” —Paul R. Ehrlich, Bing Professor of Population Studies at Stanford and author of The Population Bomb and Human Natures “should fascinate any thoughtful reader” “The Human Swarm is a book by a biologist that should fascinate any thoughtful reader and deserves to be taken seriously by psychologists and social scientists alike.” —Roy Baumeister, one of the most cited living psychologists and author of Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength “rigorous in its science… deeply thought-provoking” "Our times are filled with garage start-ups that become Silicon Valley behemoths overnight. Such scaling-up pales in comparison to humans going from hunter-gatherer bands to our globalized world in the blink of an evolutionary eye – and thus now, a stranger a continent away can be killed when we press a button operating a drone, or rescued when we press a button marked “Donate now.” In The Human Swarm, Mark Moffett charts the science of this scaling up of human societies, and its unlikely evolutionary consequences. This highly readable book is ambitious in its interdisciplinary breadth, rigorous in its science, and deeply thought-provoking in its implications.” —Robert Sapolsky, Stanford primatologist and bestselling author of Behave “A tour-de-force” —Donald Johanson, author of Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind and the founder of the Institute of Human Origins “well-researched and richly detailed” "Moffett argues his points well and provides a well-researched and richly detailed account of why societies have been a fundamental part of the human experience since our earliest ancestors. Highly recommended for fans of Jared Diamond's Collapse and Yuval Harari's Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind.” —Library Journal, Starred Review “a fine work” “This fine work should appeal to anyone curious about human societies, which is basically everyone.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review “delightfully accessible and ingenious” “A fascinating exploration of how members of human societies identify who belongs and why most believe that their society is superior… A delightfully accessible and ingenious series of lessons on humans and our societies.” —Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review “A magisterial work of monumental importance” “In the past quarter century there has emerged a genre of Big History that includes such epic books as Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel, Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature, and Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens. Mark Moffett’s The Human Swarm is destined to be included in future lists of such books that not only add to our understanding of who we are, how we got here, and where we’re going, but change our perspective of how we fit in the larger picture of life on Earth. A magisterial work of monumental importance.” —Michael Shermer, Publisher of Skeptic magazine, columnist for Scientific American Errors in the first printing Page 341 March 29, 2019 The year when Gabby Douglas didn’t place a hand over her heart while the American national anthem played was 2016. Page 71 March 29, 2019 The spider described is Cosmophasis bitaeniata, and not Myrmaplata plataleoides. An odd mistake, since I know both species very well!