Chris Gosden is curator at the Pitt-Rivers Museum, Oxford, and a university lecturer. His special interests include Pacific prehistory and late prehistoric Europe.
Prehistory: A Very Short Introductionby Chris Gosden
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This VSI to prehistory will introduce the reader to four and a half million years of human existence. Many of the familiar aspects of modern life are no more than a century or two old, yet our deep social structures and skills were in large measure developed by small bands of our prehistoric ancestors many millennia ago. Chris Gosden invites us to think seriously about who we are by considering who we have been. The idea of prehistory owes its origins to Darwin - suddenly any description of human life on Earth had to take account of a much longer timespan than ever before. What new views of ourselves has this new timespan opened up? Chris Gosden's fascinating new book asks: What relationships did our distant ancestors have with the natural world, with each other, and with the objects and values they created? And as humanity hurtles into a future of virtual interraction and genetic manipulation, what can the darkest recesses of our past teach us about our future? ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
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I've read some 30+ Very Short Introductions series books so far, and by and large they are very good and informative readings. Most of them I would give either 4 or 5 stars. However, the "Prehistory" book is far worse than any of them, both in terms of content and style. In fact, I think it is so bad that I was compelled to write my very first online review to warn others about it. The writing is rambling, vacuous and repetitive. There is very little prehistory covered, or any other history for that matter. You'll probably learn more about David Beckham's soccer skills than, say, what happened to the Neanderthals (they went extinct). However, if you enjoy the pseudo-intellectual cross-cultural, deconstructionist academese babble, this book just might be the one to keep you up late at night. Otherwise, stay away as far as possible.