From the Publisher
Kirkus Reivew, April 15, 2011
"An appealing account of human evolution and the fiercely competitive anthropologists who are unearthing our ancestors’ remains and arguing over what they mean
. The author does a superb job of describing the nuts-and-bolts of field research, the meaning of the often headline-producing findings and the ever-changing variety of species who split off from the common ancestors of chimpanzees and hominids.”
Outsized personalities, turf wars, public insults and heated debates were the order of the day. Meredith outlines these scientific disputes in a clear and accessible manner, and presents a lucid summary of the current scientific thinking on the origins of humanity…Much like the fossil hunters themselves, Meredith manages to assemble a cogent and compelling narrative from the occasionally messy history of paleoanthropology.
The Washington Post
Today it is accepted that Africa is the continent of origin for the human species. But this was not always the case. A century ago, when human fossils were just beginning to be discovered and classified in various spots across the globe, scientists argued over where human beings originated, with many believing it was Indonesia, elsewhere in Asia, or even Europe. Meredith (History: The Fate of Africa) traces the history of scientific discoveries of human fossils over the last 100 years in the first part of the book, including the many controversies that erupted over differing conclusions within the scientific community. In the second half, he focuses on the migration of the human species out of Africa to the rest of the world. VERDICT Throughout, Meredith successfully chronicles the advancement of scientific thinking where human origins are concerned. Amateur physical anthropologists will find this an interesting, enjoyable read.—Gloria Maxwell, Metropolitan Community Coll.—Penn Valley, Kansas City, MO
An appealing account of human evolution and the fiercely competitive anthropologists who are unearthing our ancestors' remains and arguing over what they mean.
Observing that apes and chimpanzees live in Africa, Charles Darwin theorized that it was the home of our common ancestor, "the most likely birthplace of humankind." Almost no one agreed at the time, writes British journalist and historian Meredith (Mandela, 2010, etc.). Experts dismissed South African Raymond Dart's landmark 1924 discovery, a complete skull of a primitive hominid. Matters did not change until after World War II, largely because of the energetic, colorful and contentious Louis Leakey, soon joined by his wife, Mary, their children and grandchildren. In human anthropology more than most sciences, both academic success and fame depend on finding extraordinarily rare human remains, a task that requires grueling persistence, a talent for raising money and luck. Meredith reveals his journalistic roots by focusing on these ambitious, often media-hungry men and women whose foibles and nasty feuds may not be relevant but make for entertaining reading.
The author does a superb job of describing the nuts-and-bolts of field research, the meaning of the often headline-producing findings and the ever-changing variety of species who split off from the common ancestors of chimpanzees and hominids.