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The World from Beginnings to 4000 BCE (New Oxford World History) 1st Edition

3.9 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195167122
ISBN-10: 0195167120
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Tattersall (Becoming Human), a curator in the anthropology division of the American Museum of Natural History, uses fossil and archeological records to examine the seven (or so) million years from the dawn of the Hominidae, the family that includes humans, to the gradual development of agriculture and permanent settlements. His topic is huge and his pages are few, but this overview will give readers a sense of the current thinking in the field. Tattersall discusses the characteristics that separate Homo sapiens from extinct hominids, concluding that the gulf between us and our closest relative opened up when our enlarged brains gave rise to symbolic reasoning. Asserting that hominid evolution is more complex than previously thought and that the idea of a linear progression of species is far too simplistic, Tattersall presents mitochondrial DNA evidence that we are not directly related to Neanderthals and declares, We are not the result of constant fine-tuning over the eons, any more than we are the summit of creation. Finally, he explains the techniques used to interpret the physical evidence of evolutionary processes. This is an elegant, if brief, introduction to a complex field. 20 b&w illus. (Feb.)
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Review


"[L]ucid and insightful prose...[A]n excellent introduction to a part of history that most historians skip over due to its remoteness in time, the complexity and the changing nature of the evidence, and the difficulty of the science it takes to understand it...[A]n extremely well presented and at time engaging history of the exploration of our evolutionary origins." --World History Connected


"A lucid and at times elegant introduction to the complex field of evolutionary theory.... Tattersall takes the reader on a lively and readable romp through the eons of hominid history.... Ian Tattersall's masterful treatment of early human evolution represents an auspicious point of departure for Oxford's new series on world history."--The Journal of World History


"Contributes without doubt to provide a better understanding of academic research in this field."--Elizabeth Do Lam, Teaching History


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Product Details

  • Series: New Oxford World History
  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (February 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195167120
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195167122
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 0.6 x 6.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,510,211 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I picked up this book because I couldn't resist a book entitled THE WORLD FROM BEGINNINGS...that was only 124 pages long! And it did indeed fulfill its promise. Starting with a very lucid discussion of evolution, continuing through a concise overview of various hominids and ending with early homo sapiens, it is all there, including some discussion of latest theories.

Written in a highly understandable fashion, aided by helpful charts and illustrations, it is also well referenced, with helpful suggestions for further reading.

For anyone knowledgeable about human origins, this book would probably be merely a concise review. However, for someone not so knowledgeable, but curious, without being ready to delve deeply into the subject, I found it just right. I eagerly await the next book in this series, THE WORLD FROM 4000 TO 1000 BCE.
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Format: Kindle Edition
The World From Beginnings to 4000 BCE marks the first in a brilliant new series from Oxford University Press, bringing a short but thorough history of the world - The New Oxford World History. The series will be split into three sections: Chronological Volumes, Thematic and Topical Volumes, and Geographical Volumes, with The World From Beginnings to 4000BCE launching the Chronological Volumes.

Ian Tattersall, a curator in the Division of Anthropology at the American Museum of Natural History, begins the book with an introduction and explanation of evolutionary processes - what exactly Charles Darwin was talking about, with a clear and precise definition of natural selection. This serves as a foundation for subsequent chapters, which cover fossils and paleontology, when humanity began walking on two feet, as well as the history (as we know it, according to evidence) of the Homo genus. It is at this point that our ancestors are clearly defined as being separate, different, more intelligent than other life on the planet, and Tattersall explains why that was and what it meant to us as a species.

In the final chapter, leading up to the prehistoric-approaching-historic date of 4000BCE, Tattersall discusses the beginning of settlement and the inception of towns and eventual cities in Mesopotamia, in what is today Iraq. Tattersall doesn't let his writing just speak for itself, but uses pictures, graphs, and charts to present and support facts and evidence. The World From Beginnings to 4000BCE is an ideal reference book, or layman's history book for those interested in this crucial defining period in our ancestry.

For more reviews, and writings, or to buy yourself a copy, please visit [...]
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I bought this book because I wanted something to bridge the gap I'm finding in books for a general but educated audience that cover the period in Human history between the Ice Age and the Bronze Age. The last chapter doesn't quite live up to the title, not quite making it to 4000 BCE. He gives only a very cursory treatment of the discovery of agriculture and the domestication of animals, far short of a fully fleshed-out account of the human experience just before the dawn of civilization. I don't feel I know much more than I did before I read the book.

However, the book is very well-written and entertaining without being glib or dumbed-down. I highly recommend it.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
An enjoyable (but short) read - covers "the World" (from a hominid/human perspective) through to the development of civilisation/cities around 4000 BCE. Starts with a synopsis of the history of theories on evolution - and provides a big breakthrough in understanding for the layman in presenting the non-linear approach to evolution. Makes sense, moving through the emergence and co-existence of various hominids. Also explains in clear terms how homo sapiens came to populate the earth and how so-called racial variations came to emerge. Well illustrated with photos, maps and drawings. The only disappointment is that the book is quite short - the text in the Kindle version is complete at around 70% through, with the remaining 30% comprising sources, references to websites and an index. That quibble aside, this book has brought great clarity to a subject that was previously buried in mystery.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ian Tattersall continues his exploration of human origins and the emergence of homo sapiens in this introductory history series by the Oxford University Press. I have read many of Dr. Tattersall's books and this small volume ranks right there up with his best.

An excellent overview of prehistory by an expert in the field who also happens to write very, very well.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
this volume is primarily about evolution of the human species. i, probably inappropriately, expected a historical account of homo sapiens from cave to agriculture. it's discussion of evolution was OK, but better covered elsewhere, actually better covered by Tattersall elsewhere.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I knew very little about anthropology prior to this book and I found it to be a great introduction. This book is very short, I read it over three days which means most people could read it in 3 hours. It is packed with info, I could probably read it again and learn a few more things. The book discusses the different hominid life forms that have been discovered leading up to homo sapiens. It's a very honest book, describing things we know and things we just don't know yet. This reads like a textbook, so it can be a bit dry at times, but overall I was very happy with it.
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