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About the book
  • Published: 18 September 2017
  • ISBN: 9781784704896
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 192
  • RRP: $26.00
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The Kingdom of Speech




From the author of The Bonfire of the Vanities, the maestro storyteller and reporter provocatively argues that what we think we know about speech and human evolution is wrong.

'A great journalist with a whip-like satirical prose style… Wolfe’s great gift is to make the heavy seem light and this book is such an entertaining polemic that I read it in a day and immediately wanted to read it again.' - Bryan Appleyard, Sunday Times

Tom Wolfe, whose legend began in journalism, takes us on an eye-opening journey through language. The Kingdom of Speech is a 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 our Kingdom of Speech.

  • Pub date: 18 September 2017
  • ISBN: 9781784704896
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 192
  • RRP: $26.00

About the Author

Tom Wolfe

Tom Wolfe (1930-2018) was the author of more than a dozen books, among them The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, The Right Stuff, The Bonfire of the Vanities, A Man in Full, I Am Charlotte Simmons and Back to Blood. He received the National Book Foundation's 2010 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.

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Praise for The Kingdom of Speech

“A great journalist with a whip-like satirical prose style… Wolfe’s great gift is to make the heavy seem light and this book is such an entertaining polemic that I read it in a day and immediately wanted to read it again.”

Bryan Appleyard, Sunday Times

“You’re in the hands of a master who has never written a dull word in his life. Tom Wolfe, America’s greatest man of letters, is 85 and still fizzing with energy and insight… Wolfe packs a lot in it, [The Kingdom of Speech] writing with the fluency and vigour of a man one-third his age.”

James Delingpole, Mail on Sunday

“A marvelous mix of gleeful energy and whip-around-the-neck control, and his book is a gas to read.”

Charles Mann, Wall Street Journal (Europe)

“It is clear how much we have missed him… The wonder of his book is its point of view. He is a polemicist, a slayer of reputation and pretension… It is wonderful to have him back.”

Philip Delves Broughton, Financial Times

“[Kingdom of Speech is] vastly entertaining… compulsively readable.”

Muhammad Idrees Ahmad, National

“The style is instantly recognisable, and the book hurtles on for 160 pages of wicked, opinionated, high-velocity prose.”

Alun Anderson, New Scientist

“It is a riveting read.”

Alun Anderson, New Scientist

“The story of an academic dispute in the world of linguistics is beautifully told by a world-class storyteller.”

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