The World from Beginnings to 4000 BCE
By Ian Tattersall
Published by Oxford University Press
160 pages - PDF - 6 mb
The stated aim of this new series of books is to provide an informed, lively and up-to-date view of the world that differs from "old" world histories. How then does this book match up to the intention?
The World from Beginnings to 4000 BCE is a big book that covers a mere 143 pages.
Starting with the appearance of our most distant ancestors about 7 million years ago, it takes the reader through the major evolutionary developments, always pausing to explain how we know what we know and why it is important.
Ultimately our understanding of human evolution is rather like a patchwork blanket: small pieces of information taken from fossils, genetics, geology, archaeology and so on are stitched together to produce something greater than the sum of its parts.
It would be easy to fail to convey how and why this is central to the subject, but Tattersall deftly avoids this pitfall. The end product is a comprehensive yet accessible review of the current state of human evolution.
Ultimately how good is this book? Pleasingly, the answer is that it is very good.
It takes a complex subject and produces a gripping read while covering the major themes of human evolution with a refreshing confidence that will allow readers to put down the book safe in the knowledge that they have been treated to a masterclass in the current understanding of human evolution.
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