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The Wisdom of the Bones: In Search of Human Origins Paperback – September 2, 1997
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
The challenge in popular scientific books is to make potentially dense material easy to read so that the reader doesn't feel burdened by the material he or she reads. Walker and Shipman do this very well in "Wisdom of the Bones". Walker successfully integrates two stories here- one of his trip to Kenya leading up to his team's revolutionary discovery of Turkana Boy (Homo erectus/ ergaster), and the other of Turkana Boy and his bretherin.
The book doubles as a pleasurable novel and a factually saturated work-- I've found this book an invaluable resource in many classes, but i've also enjoyed the plot line. Walker keeps one engaged throughout the book-- not an easy feat in the scientific world.
I saw another reviewer bashing the authors for making wild conclusions based on minimal evidence. But that is the creative genius of these people. They're not making wild conclusions, but rather the most logical findings they can working with tiny pieces of bone millions of years old. For instance, at one point the authors discuss finding evidence of a specific type of disease in a pre homo-sapiens fossil. We know that the person (or hominid!) would have been partially crippled for some extended period of time, and certainly unable to gather food and defend against predators. Much like reading tree rings, the next layers of bone show that the infection or disease healed, and the being likely recovered and went on with life. The fact of the recovery leads to the author's conclusion that at this point in pre-history, the (person) had someone else as a caregiver, helping gather water and food and offering shelter, etc. This is important and offers glimpses into the mental and emotional development at that point in time. It seems a rather simple idea, but it's just one of numbers of brilliant ideas the authors proffer that don't seem like wild conclusions at all.
The entire book is fascinating and quite honestly makes me wish I could go back in time and change professions.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Even though it's 18 years since this classic account was published, it's still very relevant. Back in the 1980s the 'Nariokotome boy' was the most complete erectus skeleton... Read morePublished on December 31, 2013 by John R. Evans
This terrific book focuses on the Nariokatome Boy, a 1.6M yr old Homo Erectus’ skeleton. World-class excavator and discoverer Kamoya Kimeu found the first pieces, Richard Leakey's... Read morePublished on November 7, 2013 by W. B. Abbott
I had to read this book for an introduction to archaeology anthropology class in college this semester (fall 2007). I really enjoyed reading it. Read morePublished on October 17, 2007 by H. Mommaerts
It is largely a semi autobiogographic account of Alan Walker's life, which I am not concerned about, It does have some information on the Nariokotome Boy which I am very... Read morePublished on April 12, 2005 by BernardZ
It took me several chapters to get into this book, but once the authors began extrapolating on the reasons for various features of the Nariokotome boy, I was hooked. Read morePublished on March 29, 2000