I recently re-read The Rise and Fall of the Third Chimpanzee, Jared Diamond's readable and insightful book on human evolution.
The book looks at how humans evolved from the apes, what makes us uniquely human and how we have managed to spread so successfully across the globe killing each other and damaging the environment along the way. Diamond considers such issues as how did art evolve? Was there ever such a thing as the 'Golden Age' of human civilisation? Was the development of agriculture entirely a positive development for us? and Will we ever learn to live in harmony with nature?
The information is all very well organised and presented in an engaging manner and is guaranteed to be thought provoking, even all these years after its publication in 1991, although, admittedly some of it is out of date. The sad thing for me is reading about the human destruction of the environment and knowing that in the 15 years since this book was written we haven't really moved forward on this and in fact in many ways have moved backwards.
If you want to learn more about the issues in the book, Diamond has also written two follow up books Collapse (2005) and Guns, Germs and Steel (1995) though this last one isn't as good as the other two in my opinion.
A definite recommendation for anyone interested in human evolution and our relationship with the natural world.
The Rise and Fall of the Third Chimpanzee by Jared Diamond published by Vintage.