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The kingdom of speech /

"Taking readers on a rollicking ride through history, a master storyteller and reporter, whose legend began in journalism, presents a paradigm-shifting argument that speech, not evolution, is responsible for humanity's complex societies and achievements"--NoveList. Full description

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Format: Book
Language: English
Published: Little, Brown and Company, 2016
Edition: First edition.
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The maestro storyteller and reporter provocatively argues that what we think we know about speech and human evolution is wrong.
"A whooping, joy-filled and hyperbolic raid on, of all things, the theory of evolution." (Dwight Garner, New York Times )
Tom Wolfe, whose legend began in journalism, takes us on an eye-opening journey that is sure to arouse widespread debate. THE KINGDOM OF SPEECH is a captivating, paradigm-shifting argument that speech--not evolution--is responsible for humanity's complex societies and achievements.

From Alfred Russel Wallace, the Englishman who beat Darwin to the theory of natural selection but later renounced it, and through the controversial work of modern-day anthropologist Daniel Everett, who defies the current wisdom that language is hard-wired in humans, Wolfe examines the solemn, long-faced, laugh-out-loud zig-zags of Darwinism, old and Neo, and finds it irrelevant here in the Kingdom of Speech.

Review by Booklist Review

Over the course of his long, intrepid, and influential writing life, Wolfe has become best known for his big, brash novels of eviscerating social critique, most recently Back to Blood (2012). But he made his name writing facade-busting nonfiction, and now, after a 16-year hiatus, he returns to true stories, all riled up about eight heavy-weight Evolutionists who threw in the towel, giving up on the effort to determine the origin of speech and how it works. Speech, Wolfe declares, is the attribute of all attributes when it comes to what differentiates humankind from all the other animals on Earth, so why have we failed to understand our world-altering linguistic capability? In this mettlesome, slyly funny takedown, Wolfe spotlights two key scientific rivalries, each pitting a scrappy outsider against the academy: the naturalist Alfred Wallace versus Charles Darwin, and, in our time, the missionary-turned-linguist Daniel L. Everett and his battle with the long-reigning Noam Chomsky. Wolfe's pithy and stirring play-by-play coverage of compelling lives and demanding science transforms our perception of speech, which, he asserts, will soon be recognized as the Fourth Kingdom of Earth. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: As always, the white-suited Wolfe will be all over the media, traditional and online, stirring things up and sending readers to the shelves.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2016 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Wolfe stands as one of the towering literary figures of our era, who is known for his distinct style of writing. For a voice actor, conveying Wolfe's blend of erudite intensity and sardonic wit presents quite a challenge, but Petkoff rises to the occasion. Wolfe's thesis in this book centers on his belief that the theories of both Charles Darwin and Noam Chomsky fail to account for how humans developed language. Petkoff manages to channel the bite of Wolfe's narrative at every turn, as he declares winners and losers of this grand debate over how humans developed language. Admittedly, nonfiction social criticism in this format probably does not have a wide appeal, but Petkoff helps up the entertainment value for this type of project. A Little, Brown hardcover. (Aug.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

With his first work of nonfiction in 16 years, Wolfe (The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test; The Bonfire of the Vanities) is back with a bang, arguing that speech is the cornerstone of society's greatest accomplishments. Meticulously deconstructing Darwinism, Wolfe exposes the flaws in the theory of evolution, which was eventually rejected by its original forgotten founder, and shatters the gentlemanly image of its namesake. Transitioning seamlessly into the land of linguistics, the author then elegantly strips apart the concept that humans were born with a "language organ." Examining the controversial field research of Daniel Everett, Wolfe shows how persistence can pay off when confronting stubborn, outdated concepts authorized and endorsed by the establishment. With his usual sharp wit and style, Wolfe's return to his roots is a thrilling journey into the who, what, where, when, why, and how of speech that will undoubtedly provoke stimulating conversations. VERDICT Not just for linguistics students or fans of the famous father of new journalism, this slim, spirited volume makes a worthy addition to any collection. [See Prepub Alert, 2/21/16.]-Venessa Hughes, Buffalo, NY © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Thomas Kennerly Wolfe Jr. was born in Richmond, Virginia on March 2, 1930. He received bachelor's degree in English from Washington and Lee University in 1951 and a Ph.D in American studies from Yale University in 1957. He started his journalism career as a general-assignment reporter at The Springfield Union. While he was working for The Washington Post, he was assigned to cover Latin America and won the Washington Newspaper Guild's foreign news prize for a series on Cuba in 1961. In 1962, he became a reporter for the New York Herald Tribune and a staff writer for New York magazine. His work also appeared in Harper's and Esquire.

His first book, a collection of articles about the flamboyant Sixties written for New York and Esquire entitled The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby, was published in 1968. His other collections included Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers and Hooking Up. His non-fiction works included The Pump House Gang; The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test; The Painted Word; Mauve Gloves and Madmen, Clutter and Vine; In Our Time; and From Bauhaus to Our House. The Right Stuff won the American Book Award for nonfiction, the National Institute of Arts and Letters Harold Vursell Award for prose style, and the Columbia Journalism Award. It was adapted into a film in 1983.

His fiction books included The Bonfire of the Vanities, Ambush at Fort Bragg, A Man in Full, The Kingdom of Speech, I Am Charlotte Simmons, and Back to Blood. He was also a contributing artist at Harper's from 1978 to 1981. Many of his illustrations were collected in In Our Time. He died on May 14, 2018 at the age of 88.

(Bowker Author Biography)

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