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Dance of the Tiger: A Novel of the Ice Age Paperback – October 10, 1995

3.3 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"There is drama here--probably the greatest drama and the greatest puzzle of our history: the nature, the phenomenon, of the extinction of Neandertal man. This is in every respect an extraordinary novel. Stephen Jay Gould, a Harvard scientist and scientific historian, contributes and appreciative and most useful introduction."--"The New Yorker

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Swedish
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (October 10, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520202775
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520202771
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #629,201 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
A long time ago, in a small planet lying on the outskirts of the Milky Way, an intelligent species was fighting desperately for survival. Their world had been invaded by aliens, who were also extremely advanced creatures.
If you've ever read any Science Fiction or seen any Space Opera movie, this plot is very familiar. You probably didn't know that it actually happened in our own world, some 40,000 years ago: the locals were the Neanderthals, their world was Europe, and we were the invaders.
This is a fascinating book, written by a well known paleo-anthropologist and from the point of view of the Neanderthal., that delivers not only an excellent story, but also a plausible model for the extinction of the Neanderthals.
The only drawback, is that by reading the English edition, you will lose the fascinating prologue by Juan Luis Arsuaga (co director of the Atapuerca Project and renowned paleo-anthropologist) available with the Spanish edition. If you like Dance of the Tiger and you can read Spanish, make sure you read some of Arsuaga's books, like "La especie elegida", "El collar del Neandertal" or "Atapuerca. Un millón de años de historia", you'll love them.
Even though Björn Kurtén sets his plot in northern Europe, there are now proofs that the last Neanderthals lived in southern Europe (Southern Spain and Crimea). It's frightening to think that in those places, some not far away from where I live, a member of an intelligent species, very similar to us, once thought: I am the last of my kind, and now it is time to die...
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Format: Paperback
For tens of thousands of years the Neandertals peopled Ice Age Europe. Then a new form of human (our ancestors) migrated in, and the Neandertals disappeared. Why?
Dance of the Tiger is a fascinating and exciting "might-have-been" tale with a solid factual foundation (author Bjorn Kurten was one of the foremost authorities on the Ice Age).
This book may not be "touchy-feely" enough to appeal to many fans of Clan of the Cave Bear and its sequels and spin-offs, but for those who want a (slightly) harder-edged tale of primitive adventure, this book has not been surpassed.
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Format: Paperback
I first bought this book back in 1982 and ever since have been lending my, by now, shopworn copy. For my money, this is the best of the Neanderthal/Cro-Magnon encounter stories, far superior to Clan of the Cave Bear and it's offshoots, and everyone who's read it has agreed with me. The story is solidly grounded in evolutionary/anthropological theory, and is a good read into the bargain.
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Format: Paperback
I truly liked this book. It was a pleasant getaway into the distant past. I was simply amazed and things were most unexpected. A lot of stuff happens in a single chapter. The interaction between Homo Sapiens and the Neanderthals was quite interesting. A must-read for any prehistoric fiction fan.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A story set in the Ice Age, a love story and a mystery. The setting is greatly detailed, as it should be, being written by Bjorn Kurten. While first printed in 1980, it has not really become outdated. Nothing in the book could be countered by fresh data and much of it is guess-work anyway. And a easy read.
The introduction by Stephen Jay Gould just adds to the book, like icing on a cake.
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The Neandertal people were the sole inhabitants of Europe for 65,000 years, starting from 100,000 years ago. With the arrival from the South of modern man, the Homo sapiens, the Neandertals rapidly vanished - a mystery to this day. The Dance of the Tiger offers one plausible model of the interaction between these two peoples during their crucial encounter era. The author does this with the explicit admission that we actually know little about how or even if this encounter took place and what happened. As such, the novel is a thought experiment. But it is also an action novel and murder mystery made very engaging through its rich cast of characters: intelligent animists, tested leaders, warriors, shaman, shysters, artists, etc., as the two groups vie for their place in primeval Scandinavia. The plot contains interactions and intrigues as nuanced as any set in modern times. And unlike a book of a similar ilk - The Clan of the Cave Bear, this novel focuses accurately on the rich natural world at this period of ice age thaw, and sets the story into a sharp unsentimental focus.

To criticize - I would say the plot for me, despite its crafting, was fairly predictable. Ironically, more attention was given to weaving it, than to providing complexity in the many minor characters, who seemed almost contrived to serve the plot. I also ended up doubting the model attempted by the author to solve the overriding mystery (would people continue this practice once the result quickly became evident, and where then are the commingled bones?).

What do we take home? Something very nice.
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Format: Paperback
I am amazed that a quite readable novel could be the result of scientific speculation by an accomplished scientist. The author's credentials as a scholar of vertebrate paleontology and Ice Age fauna were enough to earn this little novel good compliments from the famous likes of Richard Leakey (paleoanthropologist) , Stephen Jay Gould (evolutionary biologist), and Mary Renault (historical novelist sans égal). I don't think you could pay reviewers of this caliber to perk an unworthy novel. The language is simple, sometimes stilted, not very colorful or poetic, possibly the result of losing something in the translation? Actually, the original 1978 title in Swedish was "Den svarta tigern" - i.e. "The Black Tiger". This is an enjoyable, evocative book, not as ponderous and complicated as others of its genre that blossomed only after Kurten's publication (Clan of the Cave Bear, etc.). Additionally, the artwork is great: the interior illustrations of cave art were donated by the American Museum of Natural History, and the beautiful dust jacket of the First American Edition was designed by Wendell Minor - see the images we uploaded.
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