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Ancestral Passions: The Leakey Family and the Quest for Humankind's Beginnings
     

Ancestral Passions: The Leakey Family and the Quest for Humankind's Beginnings

by Virginia Morell
 

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looks different". says The New York Times Book Review. This fascinating biography of the "First Family" of anthropology reveals how their discoveries, collaborations, and rivalries contributed to our own knowledge of the origins of humankind. Includes 50 photos.

Overview

looks different". says The New York Times Book Review. This fascinating biography of the "First Family" of anthropology reveals how their discoveries, collaborations, and rivalries contributed to our own knowledge of the origins of humankind. Includes 50 photos.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Born in Kenya, Louis Leakey (1903- 1972), son of a dynamic missionary, grew up among Kikuyu natives. At Cambridge in 1923, a rugby injury left him with post-traumatic epilepsy, necessitating a prolonged leave that marked the beginning of his fossil-hunting career. In 1933, one month after his first wife, Frida, gave birth to their son Colin, Louis announced that he was leaving her for one of his students, Mary Nicol. Over the next four decades, the husband-and-wife Leakey team made stunning discoveries of hominid fossils that supported Louis's theory that humankind originated in Africa and was millions of years older than most experts had assumed. In a revelatory biography that strips away the aura surrounding a legendary family, Oregon-based science writer Morell maintains that by the late 1950s, the Leakey marriage had deteriorated into a business partnership. Louis had extramarital affairs and fell ardently in love with his young protgs, chimpanzee expert Jane Goodall and gorilla-watcher Dian Fossey. His son Richard, by this account, had a bitter professional rivalry with his domineering father and, fearing that Louis would try to ease him out, kept from him his 1968 diagnosis of terminal kidney disease, which he overcame with a kidney transplant operation in 1980. Morell balances grand scientific adventure with personal chronicle in an extraordinary group portrait that was written with the family's cooperation yet is not authorized. Photos. Newbridge Book Club alternate. (Aug.)
Library Journal
A science writer for the New York Times Magazine and other journals celebrates the leading family in anthropology.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780684824703
Publisher:
Touchstone
Publication date:
08/14/1996
Pages:
640
Sales rank:
1,388,963
Product dimensions:
1.45(w) x 6.00(h) x 9.00(d)

Meet the Author

VIRGINIA MORELL is the author of Ancestral Passions, Blue Nile, and Wildlife Wars, which she co-authored with Richard Leakey. She is contributing correspondent for Science and a regular contributor to National Geographic Magazine. Her 2008 NGM article, “Minds of Their Own,” was the kernel of her forthcoming book, How We Know Animals Think. MARY ROACH is the author of Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife, Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex, and Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void. PETER MILLER is the author of The Smart Swarm: How Understanding Flocks, Schools, and Colonies Can Make Us Better at Communicating, Decision Making, and Getting Things Done. He is a senior editor at National Geographic and has served as a writer and editor at the magazine for more than 25 years.

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