The Ancestor's Tale takes us from our immediate human ancestors back through what he calls concestors, those shared with the apes, monkeys and other mammals and other vertebrates and beyond to the dim and distant microbial beginnings of life some 4 billion years ago. It is a remarkable story which is still very much in the process of being uncovered. And, of course from a scientist of Dawkins stature and reputation we get an insider's knowledge of the most up-to-date science and many of those involved in the research. And, as we have come to expect of Dawkins, it is told with a passionate commitment to scientific veracity and a nose for a good story. Dawkins's knowledge of the vast and wonderful sweep of life's diversity is admirable. Not only does it encompass the most interesting living representatives of so many groups of organisms but also the important and informative fossil ones, many of which have only been found in recent years.
Dawkins sees his journey with its reverse chronology as cast in the form of an epic pilgrimage from the present to the past [and] all roads lead to the origin of life. It is, to my mind, a sensible and perfectly acceptable approach although some might complain about going against the grain of evolution. The great benefit for the general reader is that it begins with the more familiar present and the animals nearest and dearest to usour immediate human ancestors. And then it delves back into the more remote and less familiar past with its droves of lesser known and extinct fossil forms. The whole pilgrimage is divided into 40 tales, each based around a group of organisms and discusses their role in the overall story. Genetic, morphological and fossil evidence is all taken into account and illustrated with a wealth of photos and drawings of living and fossils forms, evolutionary and distributional charts and maps through time, providing a visual compliment and complement to the text. The design also allows Dawkins to make numerous running comments and characteristic asides. There are also numerous references and a good index.-- Douglas Palmer --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
All in all, this is a fascinating and enjoyable book and well worth reading.
In summary, I really enjoyed this book, and would highly recommend it to anyone interested in mankind's ancestors and evolution.
I very rarely put a book aside once I start - this one was in my "to be read" stack with only the first 5 pages read.
As with all of his books that I've read Dawkins is thorough in his arguments to the point of slow and long winded. Read morePublished 2 months ago by D. Maidment
First of all, let me make it clear that I agree with Richard Dawkins on most matters religious and political, so I don’t have any axe to grind with him on that score. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Karl Janssen
This book is not for the faint of heart. It's a massive biography of the human race that begins in the modern day and traces our ancestry backwards to the beginning of life... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Lindsey
I learned a lot I didn't know I was lost at times but I feel like this would be better the second time around parts were slow but it picked up once I got past the primates really... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Deion
This review applies to the CD and not the book but I am sure that there will not be much difference between the two. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Bob's Beekeeping
I love Richard Dawkins and his writings on evolutionary biology. I can't wait to read this one now that I have it.Published 4 months ago by susan petronio
I got this book based on Richard's personal reply to my question as to which of his books I should read and it was wonderful.He's a master really. Lucid work.Published 4 months ago by Zelalem Dawit
I've never had so much fun learning so much. The impressive scope could have been tedious but the fascinating traveling companions, to whose perspectives Dawkins ably gives a... Read morePublished 5 months ago by N. Pitchford
This is not easy to understand, you're not going to speed-read though this and come out with much - but if you stick with and take it small doses you'll slowly build up a picture... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Mark Robertson