Help with Ideas for the Cover Art of My Book!



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As I said in the previous post I am currently in the final phase of publishing my second popular book. One thing I need to do is to have a professional cover, which conveys the main idea of the book in a visually arresting way. As you can imagine, this is not easy. And here’s where you, my readers, can help if you would be so inclined. Anybody who proposes an idea that we end up using, in whole or in part, will receive a signed copy of my book when it comes out!

First, here’s the book description, written by my editor Ed Lake:



How 10,000 Years of War Made Humans the Greatest Cooperators on Earth

by Peter Turchin

Cooperation is powerful.

There aren’t many highly cooperative species—but they nearly cover the planet. Ants alone account for a quarter of all animal matter. Yet the human capacity to work together leaves every other species standing.

We organize ourselves into communities of hundreds of millions of individuals, inhabit every continent, and send people into space. Human beings are nature’s greatest team players. And the truly astounding thing is, we only started our steep climb to the top of the rankings—overtaking wasps, bees, termites and ants—in the last 10,000 years. Genetic evolution can’t explain this anomaly. Something else is going on. How did we become the ultrasocial animal?

In his latest book, the evolutionary scientist Peter Turchin (War and Peace and War) solves the puzzle using some astonishing results in the new science of Cultural Evolution. The story of humanity, from the first scattered bands of Homo sapiens right through to the greatest empires in history, turns out to be driven by a remorseless logic. Our apparently miraculous powers of cooperation were forged in the fires of war. Only conflict, escalating in scale and severity, can explain the extraordinary shifts in human society—and society is the greatest military technology of all.

Seen through the eyes of Cultural Evolution, human history reveals a strange, paradoxical pattern. Early humans were much more egalitarian than other primates, ruthlessly eliminating any upstart who wanted to become alpha male. But if human nature favors equality, how did the blood-soaked god kings of antiquity ever manage to claim their thrones? And how, over the course of thousands of years, did they vanish from the earth, swept away by a reborn spirit of human equality? Why is the story of human justice a chronicle of millennia-long reversals? Once again, the science points to just one explanation: war created the terrible majesty of kingship, and war obliterated it.

Is endless war, then, our fate? Or might society one day evolve beyond it? There’s only one way to answer that question. Follow Turchin on an epic journey through time, and discover something that generations of historians thought impossible: the hidden laws of history itself.

Now, the challenge. We are looking for an image to put on the cover page that could evoke what the book is about.Ideally, we would love the right visual metaphor for “in cooperating we out-compete.” It would be great if the image could convey  how profound the human nature is.

I know you cannot include images in the comments, so it can be done in two ways: either include a link to the image, or send me an e-mail to peter dot turchin at uconn dot edu.

Looking forward to your ideas!

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Stephen Greenleaf

I’ve played on many a basketball team & I now coach a high school team. The yin and yang of intra-team competition for playing time and glory (thymos) must end at game time & turn into cooperation. The greater the cooperation and coordination, the greater the likelihood of victory. And because Americans are on the whole sports obsessed, an athletic team motif might resonate although I admit that I’m not sure how you’d show the cooperation-competition cycle pictorially.


“Blind military power which forces humans to cooperate and creates inequality, often against their will…”
Comes to mind, Savva Brodsky, illustration to Don Quixote:
or /and


A handshake, in Andy Whorhal colors.

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