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The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Human Evolution (Cambridge Reference Book)

5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0521467865
ISBN-10: 0521467861
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Editorial Reviews


"This book is unquestionably the best reference work dedicated to human evolution yet published....The stunning computer-generated composite image of human and chimpanzee faces that graces the cover illustrates the unmistakable link between humans and other primates that is emphasized on the pages within....The book resembles and reads like a textbook as much as an encyclopedia....This work is a comprehensive catalog of present knowledge and thus an absolutely essential source for all libraries." Library Journal

"...this Cambridge title offers a wide-ranging introduction to the field...both comprehensive and usable...This work is highly recommended for general and research libraries of all types...The authoritative source material is both readable and accurate within the framework of current data." Laurel Grozinger, American Reference Books Annual

"...succeeds admirably....a fascinating and beautiful introduction to human evolution in its broadest context....a useful reference for anyone interested in the subject." John G. Fleagle, The Quarterly Review of Biology

"In all, this is an essential purchase for any anthropology library." The Times Higher Education Supplement

"If (whether student or professional) you're interested in human evolution, you'll want to have this volume handy." Ian Tattersall, Nature

"...I can think of no more useful guide to the research topics of general human evolution. Individually and collectively the essays are readable and scholarly, and the stylistic presentation is highly professional. At the very least it should be on the required reading list for courses on human evolution, for teachers and students alike." Walter Carl Hartwig, Evolutionary Anthropology

"...a fine book; a worthy addition to the excellent Cambridge Encyclopedia series. Great to have on the shelves." Colin Tudge, New Scientist

"...covers human ecology through broad topical articles. Topically, this new encyclopedia seems stronger on most behavior issues and provides more extensive attention to the evolution and ecology of relevant living primates, such as lemurs and monkeys. In addition, it is more up to date on such controversies as 'Mitochondrial Eve.' The academic approach and article length of The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Human Evolution will appeal most to university and research libraries." Booklist

"...succeeds in providing truly 'encyclopedic' coverage of the whole gamut of human evolutionary studies....The quality of the writing is, for the most part, excellent, and the editors and contributing authors are to be commended for creating a volume that will be truly useful to a wide range of readers within anthropology, including graduate and undergraduate students as well as professors....I heartily recommend this volume to all anthropologists and university librarians. There is no better single source that I am aware of for finding brief, accurate, and current synopses of the issues, problems, and methods of analysis within the domain of human evolutionary studies." Robert L. Anemone, American Journal of Physical Anthropology

"...a valuable reference book for anyone working in the field of human evolution." Keren R. Rosenberg, American Journal of Human Biology

Book Description

Over seventy scholars worldwide have collaborated on this well-documented introduction to the human species. The volume includes all the reader needs to acquire a comprehensive knowledge of how humankind has developed as well as the means by which scientists investigate the origin of our species.


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Product Details

  • Series: Cambridge Reference Book
  • Paperback: 524 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (July 29, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521467861
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521467865
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 1.1 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,939,581 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Robert ("Bob") Martin originally trained as a zoologist at the University of Oxford and followed this with a DPhil (Oxford's idiosyncratic label for "PhD") a few years later. After a two-year spell of postdoctoral research at the General Ecology division of the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle in Brunoy, near Paris (France), he took up his first academic post on the faculty of University College London. During the 17 years that he spent in London, he also held posts as Senior Research Fellow at the Zoological Society of London, as Visiting Professor at Yale University and as Visiting Professor at the Musée de l'Homme, Paris. He then spent fifteen years as director of the Anthropological Institute in Zürich (Switzerland) before taking up an appointment at the Field Museum in Chicago. After serving as Provost there for five years, he took up his present appointment as A. Watson Armour III Curator of Biological Anthropology. He holds adjunct appointments at the University of Chicago as a member of the Committee on Evolutionary Biology and as professor in the Department of Anthropology. His list of publications now includes over 300 items, including the widely used 1990 textbook "Primate Origins and Evolution". As a result of his academic travels, he is completely fluent in French and German.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Gerardo Arroyo on February 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
Excellent work. In depth treatment of the subject yet accesible to everyone.It covers every imaginable aspect of human evolution by the men and woman that are at the frontiers of this science.
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18 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 3, 1999
Format: Paperback
this book fully covers the subject and gives all the scientific details in depth and up to date. many contributors and many graphics. few personal biases, discussion in a scientific style where other books are narrative / prosaic.
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Format: Paperback
Science was born in Greece. They called it episteme. They were likely to equate science with mathematics. But some of them were able to distinguish fronesis, wisdom, empirical knowledge, from science. The noun scientia was coined by our ancestors, the Romans, who distinguished it from sapientia, empirical knowledge. Science is empirical knowledge; but there is empirical knowledge also in the humanities (and particularly in art, law and philology). Faith overcame science with the Jewish-Christian power on Europe in the Middle Ages, even if not everything was bad in that age.
I realize that there is a history of science like there is a history of arts, grammar, law and literature. But in order to be a historian of science you must practice science. You must be a physicist, a chemist, a biologist. The same is true for arts, grammar, law and literature. A history in the wider sense as conceived by the classical philologist and excellent writer Toynbee lacks any depth, even if he gave insights, particularly in literature, which is my favourite subject. Philosophia naturalis meant science until Newton's time. After that usually philosophy means falsified science, anti-science or pseudo-science. However, some books of gnosiology or methodology are still interesting.
I found this Encyclopedia of Cambridge university published in 1992 very useful to me. Even if you want to be a humanist, you have to be in touch with science. Particularly I found these insights in this book.
a) The difference between comparative method and statistical method is showed by clear examples (see for example the scattergram relating body weight and brain weight in primates and other mammals at page 111 and the visual homology between the bones of a gorilla and of man at page 465).
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By Dyan " Cuevas" Barrett on October 9, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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15 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A. M. Munford on May 17, 2004
Format: Paperback
Anyone who is interested in understanding human origins is likely to be attracted to this book. It actually consists of a very comprehensive collection of articles by specialists - specialists on everything from "The structure of DNA" to "Tribal peoples in the modern world." Hidden away among all this specialised knowledge are some interesting conclusions, but they take a lot of searching for. There is one on page 358 - a three-quarter page box headed "Throwing". Barbara Isaac suggests that our ancestors, lacking sharp canine teeth or claws, made up for it, once their hand were freed from walking duties, by becoming good at throwing stones. There is another exciting idea on page 88. In another three-quarter page box, M H Day suggests that bipedalism involved a smaller pelvic girdle, which made it more difficult to give birth to a big-brained baby.

There are some more exciting ideas, but the great bulk of the text, whilst good background material for the specialised anthropologist, doesn't tell us anything very interesting. Some of it is downright irrelevant, merely filling up space. Why did we need an article on the New World Monkeys? They are nothing to do with our ancestry. And why must the book start off by trotting out the old chestnut about life starting off 3000 million years ago as "short stretches of nucleic acid floating in a chemical sea". Those who still believe that, do so on faith alone - it's science fiction. The truth is that no one knows how life began, if indeed it ever did begin.

What the book lacks, above all, is an intelligent overview, someone who can draw the strands together and tell us what it all means - the kind of overview that is attempted on the site Perhaps we should not expect this kind of overview. Certainly we don't get it.
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The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Human Evolution (Cambridge Reference Book)
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