With confidence in the goodness of human existence and affirmation of faith in human life, Jacquetta Hawkes, geologist,...



With confidence in the goodness of human existence and affirmation of faith in human life, Jacquetta Hawkes, geologist, biologist, takes a backward look at the immense span of time needed to bring man to his present state. Our failures, she feels, are less fearful when considered against the time scale of man's origins. She takes issue with the evolutionists on natural selection, claiming it misses the driving force behind the emergence of man through 100 million years. With a new sense of crisis today in the breakdown of man's relations with nature, in the increase in numbers, in the overemphasis on state, in the sinister developments of mass communication- she feels that a deepened understanding of our sources is vital. Perhaps, in her lively analysis of the slow processes from single celled creatures of the Cambrian period to the end of the aqueous years; the development of sensitivity to sight, sound, sex as the land was sought to refine the senses; the vegetable world developed some 75 million years before man; the moot question of the point of divergence between man and the anthropoid ape and the clues leading to what knowledge we have of early man -- Jacquetta Hawkes has perhaps added little to scientific knowledge. But she has injected into what might be as abstrusely difficult reading as I found LaBarre's The Human Animal, a lively sense of the adventure of discovery that makes it exciting. Then with man, sentient, groping toward expression, creating with a purpose, she takes the reader up the ladder of a culture and civilization in birth. The brain has become significant- and its anatomy and chronology are explored, the areas and functions, known facts and speculations given due credence. She claims for man an immense inheritance; the mind, while responsible for the evils of history, at full stretch has produced the finest in thought and culture, and the birth of freedom. Man today must recover kinship with his world, acknowledge his heritage. A rewarding book which brings many of the new facts of archaeology and kindred sciences into the ken of the layman. Much broader gauged than A Land, which in 1952 won recognition in the critical and scientific world.

Pub Date: March 11, 1955


Page Count: -

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1955