Customer Reviews: The Human Career: Human Biological and Cultural Origins, Third Edition
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4.3 out of 5 stars16
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on October 11, 2000
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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on December 19, 2009
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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on June 6, 2000
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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on January 13, 2014
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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on October 18, 2015
An incredibly thorough outline of human evolutionary history, covering not only hominid taxa but also primate evolution and important foundational topics like dating methods. The language is clear and easy to read.

However Klein does present as established fact some elements of the field that actually remain far from settled, so a keen student would be wise to seek out some additional reading to get a more holistic picture.
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on April 14, 2016
Great! This text is thorough and direct. The author doesnt necessarily follow the crowd. He includes the references that Lucy was likely a transitional knucklewalker and that Kabwe 1 is a early modern human (not heidelbergensis, not rhodensensis..)
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on March 30, 2009
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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on September 3, 2013
I have no academic background in paleoanthropology but a long-term amateur interest in it. I got "The Human Career" to try and start my informal education on the subject. The book is extremely slow going for novices like myself but well written. It presumes you have some understanding of the topic before you start it. I thought I did but obviously not to the level that "The Human Career" expects. Still, I am enjoying it and slogging through it.
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on February 7, 2013
The Human Career is a very in-depth analysis of the evolution of humans over the past 3 million years. If you're interested in the history of human kind, this is a very detailed and comprehensive guide. Coupled with the Smithsonian Intimate Guide to Human Origins and The History of Life, it gives an extremely comprehensive tour of the history of life on Earth.
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on November 26, 2002
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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