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The Human Career: Human Biological and Cultural Origins, Third Edition Hardcover – June 1, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0226439655 ISBN-10: 0226439658 Edition: Third Edition, Third Edition

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 1024 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; Third Edition, Third Edition edition (June 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226439658
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226439655
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 2 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #398,767 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"This imposing tome represente the third iteration of the preeminent textbook in the field of paleoanthropology. . . . It is the definitive work for a comprehensive upper-level summary of the human fossil record. . . . With accessible, accurate prose and copious illustations, this book is simply an indispensable resource."
(Choice)

About the Author

Richard G. Klein is Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor in Humanities and Sciences at Stanford University. His books include Ice-Age Hunters of the Ukraine and, with Kathryn Cruz-Uribe, The Analysis of Animal Bones from Archaeological Sites, both published by the University of Chicago Press.

Customer Reviews

I click on 'Look inside the cover' of the 3rd. edition - and it brings up the 2nd. edition.
Sandy Harcourt
If you want to know about human ancestors, and you are not too overwhelmed by details clearly and fairly presented, you'll love to wander through this book.
William Bezdek
If you're interested in the history of human kind, this is a very detailed and comprehensive guide.
Andrew Sitek

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 33 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 11, 2000
Format: Hardcover
By far the most complete and up-to-date treatment of hominid evolution I have encountered. Covers every aspect of paleoanthropology, including climatic changes and dating techniques, in great detail and precision, but with language that even a non-scientist such as myself can understand. An outstanding reference book.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Alfred Sundel on December 19, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is Klein's major work. Very comprehensive. He is a leading figure in paleoanthropology. But as new discoveries come in and new papers are published, revised editions of this book are necessary. For readers who have some idea of the subject only.

Klein and his school of thought are weakest on the period after c 40,000. They believe Neanderthals were exterminated. Accumulating evidence suggests that what he (and others) call "early moderns" in Europe all had manifest reduced Neanderthal traits. The Cro-Magnons have become an embarrassment to his otherwise erudite run through the evolutionary evidence. They were re-analysed as Neanderthaloid and redated as latecomers to Europe.

His writing on Neanderthals fails to fully credit them and the pre-Neanderthals, along with their diversity, for their many accomplishments, some of which continue down to modern times. This is essential reading for the serious student of paleoanthropology but not for the origin of modern Europeans.

Al Sundel
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21 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 6, 2000
Format: Hardcover
One of the definitive texts on the evolution of the hominidae. This text presents some very complex material in a very straightforward way with plenty of diagrams, charts, and maps. Many of the controversies found in the field of paleoanthropology are glossed over or skipped altogether, but this volume is still one of the best for an introduction to human evolution both biologically and culturally. A must for anthropology students especially with all the new discoveries in the past few years.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By William Bezdek on March 30, 2009
Format: Hardcover
For the six million years before early humans evolved in a different direction from their chimpanzee cousins, there were no writings to consult about our (assuming the readers are human) evolution. This fine book fills this tremendous gap about our ancestors by examining the evidence from skeletal remains that reveal the development of human brain size, eating habits, and getting about on two legs. Klein evaluates this evidence fairly from the viewpoint of different scholars who attempt to relate this evidence to the development of human culture. The massive list of references at the back of the book cites over 2,400 books and journal articles, accompanied by a index of the pages where each reference is used in the text. If you want to know about human ancestors, and you are not too overwhelmed by details clearly and fairly presented, you'll love to wander through this book.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Greg Maffei on November 26, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
about geology, anthropology and paleantology. This book gives minutely detailed information about everything from history to bones. It should really be used as a reference. There is probably no better book on the subject, it was recommended to me by an anthropologist
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Format: Hardcover
Beautiful book, not expensive, full of data, tables and illustrations. Unfortunately it misses what human evolution is about. Professor Klein does discuss late-Pleistocene shellfish collection by H.sapiens (e.g. Blombos), but misses the early-Pleistocene intercontinental dispersal along coasts and rivers, which made us different from apes-australopiths, and shaped us to what we are: fat and furless, large-brained, long-nosed, small-mouthed, flat-footed creatures who can voluntarily hold their breath, dive for shellfish, and open shells and coconuts with stone tools.
The traditional idea that human ancestors in Africa went from the forests to the plains (e.g. the "savanna hypothesis") rests on a logical error (post hoc, ergo propter hoc) which confuses "because" and "since": since non-human primates in the trees are quadrupedal, and humans on the ground are bipedal, we became bipedal when we left the forest, it is thought. Some paleo-anthropologists rightly realize that this cannot be the whole truth (e.g. savanna monkeys are less bipedal than forest monkeys: the so-called “baboon paradox”) and believe that our ancestors already "stood up" in the branches, possibly not unlike gibbons, who walk bipedally over branches and hang vertically from branches.
In any case, traditional paleo-anthropologists typically consider only living in or outside the (African) forests, neglecting the possibility that hominoids could have spent part of their time in forest swamps, rivers or coastal waters ("aquatic ape hypothesis" is a catchy, but incorrect term: it is not about apes-australopiths, but about waterside Pleistocene Homo).
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you're looking for a very scholarly and detailed treatment of paleoanthropology and paleobiology you need look no further than The Human Career by Richard Klein. This took me awhile to pour through, but it helped me get a much better grasp on a subject I haven't thoroughly studied in several years.

The general outline of the book works forward through time from the background of primates until anatomically modern humans in chapter seven. The last chapter recalls a lot of the preceding material in a synopsis, while the first two chapters go over some introductory items like the nature of evolution, classification schemes, definitions, the geologic time frame, issues of dating, etc.

The book is filled with many illustrations that will give a good picture for the reader of what is often being discussed. Of course there are other illustrations like tables, stratigraphy schemes, cladograms, etc.

Again, this is a very scholarly work. I wouldn't recommend this as an introduction text on human evolution, though it could be one, if the reader is willing to pour through the material slowly and learn many new words. It's not highly technical, but the reader should be familiar with evolutionary terms, stratigraphical terms, radiometric and other dating techniques, anatomical names, etc. Also, a good portion of the latter half of the book is on discussing the tooklits of homo species and their variation and similarities with one another.

I don't have many bad things to say about this book. This is also really an excellent reference book. Pages 750-1000 are filled with nothing but references, showing the amount of work this book took. Though this might take away from a traditional form of footnoting, I have a feeling that footnoting in-text would get very tedious with this type of work. It's very easy to recommend this book if you're wanting to brush up on evolutionary history.
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