Only 10,000 years ago, our ancestors were small groups of hunter-gatherers, with bows and arrows and stone tools. Today, we live in vast nations with all the power of modern science and industry, and the ability to send men to the Moon and to destroy all life on the planet. In the history of the world, 10,000 years is the blink of an eye, yet it has seen the total transformation of human existence. That extraordinary revolution is just as interesting as the Big Bang, or the origin of life, and this book is a clear and concise explanation of how it happened. Human culture was something completely new in the history of the world, and has evolved in a unique way. Darwin's theory of evolution can tell us nothing at all about this very strange process, that went far beyond any mundane struggle for physical survival by 'naked apes'. The picture of Stonehenge, built with enormous labour for no material reward, illustrates one of the central themes of this book - the fundamental importance of the human imagination to the development of science, that made possible the modern mastery of nature.