Anthony Sattin’s “Nomads”
A time of social, political, and economic chaos, with changing climate and crowded cities becoming ever more dysfunctional, as the civilized settled world comes full circle—this seems the perfect moment to consider the role that nomads have played in the human story.
The common view of that story is that we all began as nomadic hunter-gatherers then figured out how to farm, settled down, and created cities with specialization of labor, writing, monuments, and other hallmarks of civilization. As Anthony Sattin writes in his groundbreaking new book NOMADS: THE WANDERERS WHO SHAPED OUR WORLD, this tells only half the human story. Many of us never settled, never stopped moving.
Drawing on wide-ranging research and recent discoveries, Sattin takes us back 12,000 years to a time when all of our ancestors were constantly on the move, nomads living in harmony with the natural world rather than trying to tame it. Moving forward, first across Eurasia and later into Australia and North America, placing the forgotten co-creators of our modern world in the center of this sweeping history, Sattin shows how nomads have been anything but history’s “uncivilized barbarians.” In what the Times (UK) has called “a book of beauty and beguiling rhythm that offers unsettling lessons about our present-day world,” Sattin shows how nomads have flourished empires in the past and points to ways in which they might help with solutions to the crises we now face.
Anthony Sattin is the author of several acclaimed books of history, including The Gates of Africa, Lifting the Veil, and most recently, The Young T.E. Lawrence. His journalism has appeared around the world, including in the Wall Street Journal, Sunday Times, Al Jazeera, and Conde Nast Traveler. He is a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and a contributing editor to Conde Nast Traveler. He lives in London, England.