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The World from Beginnings to 4000 BCE (New Oxford World History) Paperback – February 1, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0195333152 ISBN-10: 0195333152 Edition: 0th

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Product Details

  • Series: New Oxford World History
  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (February 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195333152
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195333152
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 0.5 x 6.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #558,575 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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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3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By G. L. Hamilton on June 10, 2008
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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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Alex C. Telander on July 27, 2008
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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Francis M. Vojik on March 30, 2009
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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By M. Wilson on October 18, 2011
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Harry on March 7, 2012
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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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jeff on March 11, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am not sure why, but I expected this to be a scholarly work with in-depth survey of what is known about the history of homo sapiens from emergence to civilization. That isn't what this is. It is basically a very long Wikipedia article about human evolution. I was disappointed about the content, the graphics, the length...pretty much everything except the bibliography. If you are looking for a very general brief overview this might be of interest.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Phyllis Tyson on September 7, 2013
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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