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The Transformations of Man by Lewis Mumford

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London : George Allen & Unwin Ltd., 1957. First U.K. Edition. Hardcover. 192 pages ; 21 cm. 15 sterling dust jacket. Very good copy; no underlines or markings within the pages. Satisfaction guaranteed!


The moment for another great historic transformation of man has come, ' writes Lewis Mumford in what may prove to be the most provocative and influential of his many books on cultures and civilizations. He compares the coming transformation of human life to the revolution which swept man out of his primitive past into the first civilized communities and projects a new way of life as radically different from what we know now as were the temples of Egypt from mud huts and cave shelters.

He bases his conclusions on a remarkable and stimulating analysis of the previous transformations mankind has seen all through the course of history to the present, showing how each radical new stage grew out of changes in the human personality and consciousness, such as the invention of language and symbols, the origins of universal religions, the mechanization of everyday life. Because of a modern over-reliance on machines, he says that ' man's humanity is now threatened by the possibility of a barbarism more elemental than has ever been encountered in historic times.' But this barbarism is not inevitable. Humanity still has the means, spiritual, personal and technological, to create a future for itself in which man has scope for the highest development of his human potentials, not in spaceships, but on his own planet; not through a scientific dictatorship but by enlarging the usefulness and freedom of all men.

No writer has thrown a bolder challenge to many current preconceptions about civilization today and how it came about. Written with directness, lucidity and wit, The Transformations of Man fully measures up to the level of Mumford's many previous volumes, and may prove to be one of the most basic and important of them all.