Book Review: A Human History of Emotion
EMOTIONS ARE one of the most universally experienced aspects of being human. We have all felt the rippling burn of anger and the calm comforting love we have for a close friend. Offering a novel and engaging spin on many well-known historical events (and some lesser-known ones), Richard Firth-Godbehere’s A Human History of Emotion: How the Way We Feel Built the World We Know shows how emotions have shaped today’s world.
This book is an ambitious and sweeping story about how our understanding of emotions has evolved and the important role that emotions have played in human history. Firth-Godbehere takes his readers on a journey through the emotional landscapes of various cultures past and present.
He begins in Ancient Greece with the famous philosophers whose writings have shaped Europe’s intellectual landscape and ends with the possibility of emotion-feeling artificial intelligence. In between he travels from the rage of an African queen to the humiliation of a China ravaged by opium, from the fear that drove the witch hunts to the pride that promoted the Space Race. Emotions consistently take center stage.
Firth-Godbehere selects significant historical moments and brings them alive. His patchwork narrative structure involves blending neuroscientific and psychological insights with evocative storytelling and historical analysis, creating an exciting and accessible read.