Melding evolutionary theory and both animal and human ethology together with close, descriptive historical research on a typical Tuscan village in the seventeenth century, Hanlon explains the good reasons individuals had for behaving in ways that now seem strange to us. This fascinating study springs from the conviction that the building blocks of human life are universal: hierarchy and political participation; co-operation and competition, reproduction, invention, and adaptation. The author argues, however, that individual emotions, thought processes, and social predicaments are always set in specific times and places.

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