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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on June 19, 2012
Format: Paperback
It was some time since I last read a book on this subject and I felt inspired to check up on what is the latest in this field. Chris Stringer is well qualified to give me just that. This is a good book, easy to read and almost to the point. Mr Stringer manages to paint a rather full picture of the current state of this fascination research. His writing is easy to follow and he is not afraid to tell us what his personal view is on a number of issues. This is not a science writer, this is a scientist. He is also humble enough to give credit to other researchers in this field so overall, I don't think he has left anything out even if the book is just 300+ pages.

The book is not for those who have no knowledge on the subject at all. Mr Stringer starts from a level that means you must have some knowledge about Neanderthals, Cro-magnon etc. Not much but if you ask for a book teaching you all the basics this is not the one. That does not mean you should not read it but you might wish that you read some basic information first.

There are two issues that I did find somewhat odd. One is an illustration showing the human evolutionary tree. It is on page 266, almost in the end of the book. Why this one were not on page 20 instead in order to give more structure to the following text is a little hard to understand.

Another thing that is slightly confusing is that he has chosen not to tell the story in a chronological order (from oldest time to today) but instead jumps back an forth in various time eras and in different localities. This is at times also a little confusing and hard to understand. Not being a scientist, I would probably have liked the book to be told in the order of how we developed. But having said that, I still enjoyed reading it.

I have already recommended this one to a number of my friends with similar interests. You should read it too.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 16, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I have not yet finished the book. I find it rather technical and it that respect interesting, also for the interested layman as I am.
But I miss thus far an comprehensive overview of th origin itself. Or a sort of continuous thread by which the reader keeps track of the subject. The author switches continuously in its writing from technical and circumstancial details to the subject at hand.
I consider it rather hard work to read it, maybe, there is a reward before the end.
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on February 28, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Absolutely fantastic and a great accompaniment to the course on evolution I am currently taking on Coursera. An unique perspective on the status of current evolutionary thinking.highly recommended
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 14, 2012
Format: Paperback
According to the ancient Greeks, humans can only acquire higher knowledge and insights, when we have Self Knowledge.
And, in order to know oneself one must understand things like human behavior, morals and thoughts. But is is also important to know where we came from! And that is what Stringers book is all about!

Sure, the story about our origins is still a story with a lot of uncertainties. Humanity's past is in no way a simple story. But Stringer steers the reader through the mess and tries to maintain a consistent picture of what might have happened.

So, what made us human?
Some believe that genetic changes unique to modern humans rewired our brains 50.000 years ago, making us behavioural modern at a stroke. But, for Stringer there is no single right answer to the question of our behavioural origins.
According to Stringer, there are many interconnected strands to modern human behaviour, ranging from our enhanced mind reading talents, symbolism, artistic and musical expression, to rituals and religion.
Even music is an important part of what makes us human....

Indeed, humans might have been sitting around campfires, being social for a very long time indeed. Campfires provided warmth and protection. And a social focus as people sat to talk, sing and dance, around the flames. Eventually, campfires would also gives us cooking, a broader diet and more fuel for our energy-hungry brains.

But with these better social networks we have been able to change almost everything. Amazingly, even our pale skin (in Europe) might only have been with us for the last 11.000 years.
But, more importantly, farming is also quite new (app. 10.000 years old, introduced first in Iraq and Turkey). Indeed, farming is surely the greatest event in the evolution of Homo sapiens since its emergence. As, from farming flowed, in an incredibly short time, population growth, craft, art, religion and technology.

In the end Stringer concludes that we are predominantly of recent African origin.
But what a ride it has been from these origins.
What a book, what a story!

-Simon
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 1, 2012
Format: Paperback
This absolutely fascinating book had me glued to the page for hours, as the author draws on his wealth of extensive knowledge to tackle those big questions on the beginning of human life on earth. Questions that are explored include; do all humans originate from Africa? How did we spread across the globe, forming different countries with their own unique culture and language? Are we separate from Neanderthals or do some of us actually have their genes? Over the years humans have modernized with significant, great changes in art, technology, language, rituals and beliefs occurring that separate us further from are past ancestors as we evolve in an ever changing world that surrounds us. The question that now begins to form on are lips is whether evolution has actually stopped, because it is hard to see if we are continuing to evolve when the human species has physically stayed the same for such a long time now. Using all kinds of evidence from fossils and archaeology to Charles Darwin's theories and the mysteries of ancient DNA, Chris Stringer reveals the definitive story of where we came from, how we lived, how we got here and who we are.

This book is truly original and unique as it professes a new way of defining us and our place within history, starting from the very beginning. This has to be one of the most illuminating, insightful and comprehensive books I have ever read on the subject of human evolution and one which is just such a remarkable and astonishing read, capturing your thoughts from the very first page right through to the end. The author is one of the most expert writers on this subject being a pioneer for history, who writes in such a way as to bring the subject to life in a way that is just spectacular and colorful. It combines both anecdotes and speculation with crisp, deeply research explanations of the latest science in the study of humans, thus one gets to see all angles and viewpoints on the subject and theories.
It is the simplicity of this book and also the in-depth analysis of man's origins that make it such a masterpiece. Any medical terminology is always adequately explained thus enabling the reader to follow the arguments easily and the alternating perspectives. Not all of the pre-homo sapiens species are discussed as the author tries to focus more on Homo erectus, heidelbergiensis, neanderthalensis and ourselves. Complete with detailed illustrations and spreadsheets, Chris Stringer tries to bring to life our extremely detailed and astounding history that to this day is still debated over with many theories and contradictory theories still floating around. Pushing past all those differing and conflicting opinions (such as dismissing Stephen Oppenheimer's out of Eden ideals), he focuses more on our development and evolution that follows its own narrow pre-arranged path. It explicates to the reader simply so as to understand the changes and adaptations we have had to undergo over the years and those extraordinary discoveries, in more recent times that are most relevant and useful to newcomers of the subject.

I highly recommend reading this book, which I give a 4 ½ star rating to.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 25, 2013
Format: Paperback
This is a clearly-written, immediately understandable summary of current (as of 2011) thinking about the evolution of homo sapiens. Much has changed in the way specimens are analyzed today: new non-invasive techniques are yielding greatly increased understanding of human remains and archeological sites. The author covers a lot of territory including new theories of physical evolution (morphology) as well as the development of sociology and culture. Where there is disagreement among researchers (and there often is), Dr. Stringer gives a fair account of conflicting views. He also presents a wide range of testimony from many sources and reports on discoveries not commonly known to the lay reader. Highly recommended.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on April 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This is the British edition of Lone Survivors which I read and gave 5 stars. Please read reviews in AmazonUK for this edition and American edition.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 18, 2014
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I've just started this book and really like it- it dies require a solid background, however, so I would not call it an introductory book.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This is the British edition of Lone Survivors which I read and gave 5 stars. Please read reviews in AmazonUK for this edition and American edition.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 20, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I had more expectatives about this book. I thought that Mr Stringer would write more about our ancestors. But, overall, it is a good book.
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