The Kingdom of Speech by Tom Wolfe

I like Tom Wolfe as a stylist, though I remember having a few misgivings about A Man in Full. This book, his most recent I think, reads like a essay from the New Yorker, extended a little and put into book form. The point he makes is good and interesting: language in humans has not evolved but is an artefact, something created by humankind to share meaning and understanding and, now, the essential of thought and more or less everything we do.

But he labours the story a bit, excoriating Darwin and other evolutionists, riffing on their social and political shortcomings, before attacking Noam Chomsky and his theory of language as innate. It is fascinating as a story of ideas but Wolfe is a bit too snide and rather mars the telling.

An interesting read but feels a bit thrown together.


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