An impressive update on human evolution.

A SHORT HISTORY OF HUMANITY

A NEW HISTORY OF OLD EUROPE

A lucid overview of European prehistory.

“Bones and stones” once dominated archaeology, but advances in genetics have produced new information and settled old arguments about human evolution, relationships, and migrations. Krause, the director of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, and journalist Trappe write that the young field of archaeogenetics enables scientists to “read skeleton fragments and identify connections that would have been unknown even to the people to whom the bones belonged.” By the end of the 20th century, anthropologists knew that ancient hominids had left Africa and spread across the old world. Modern Homo sapiens did the same more than once, arriving permanently in Europe 40,000 years ago. There, they encountered the closely related Neanderthals, who soon died off or were absorbed, leaving us a sprinkling of their genes. A series of ice ages made life difficult until the current warm spell began 12,000 years ago. Modern European DNA contains genes from the hunter-gatherers who thrived until they were marginalized 8,000 years ago by a mass migration of farmers from Anatolia (modern Turkey), which had undergone the agricultural revolution. Completing the modern European genome required another mass migration of pastoralists from the Russian steppes 4,800 years ago. Near the halfway point of the book, the authors pivot from the genetics of our ancestors to their diseases. Hunter-gatherers were too scattered to support epidemics, which began when humans began to live close to one another and their animals, the source of most modern-day epidemics. Readers may be surprised to learn that scientists were only able to offer guesses about the cause of the 14th-century Black Death and earlier plagues—until 2011, when they decoded the genome of the bubonic plague bacillus. Leprosy also terrorized our ancestors but retreated, replaced by tuberculosis, a closely related bacillus, which became the leading killer until the 20th century. The authors conclude their tight yet wide-ranging survey with a discussion of how science does not support any claims of racial supremacy.

An impressive update on human evolution.  

Pub Date: April 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-22942-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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A welcome reference, entertaining and information-packed, for any outdoors-inclined reader.

THE MEATEATER GUIDE TO WILDERNESS SKILLS AND SURVIVAL

The bad news: On any given outdoor expedition, you are your own worst enemy. The good news: If you are prepared, which this book helps you achieve, you might just live through it.

As MeatEater host and experienced outdoorsman Rinella notes, there are countless dangers attendant in going into mountains, woods, or deserts; he quotes journalist Wes Siler: “People have always managed to find stupid ways to die.” Avoiding stupid mistakes is the overarching point of Rinella’s latest book, full of provocative and helpful advice. One stupid way to die is not to have the proper equipment. There’s a complication built into the question, given that when humping gear into the outdoors, weight is always an issue. The author’s answer? “Build your gear list by prioritizing safety.” That entails having some means of communication, water, food, and shelter foremost and then adding on “extra shit.” As to that, he notes gravely, “a National Park Service geologist recently estimated that as much as 215,000 pounds of feces has been tossed haphazardly into crevasses along the climbing route on Denali National Park’s Kahiltna Glacier, where climbers melt snow for drinking water.” Ingesting fecal matter is a quick route to sickness, and Rinella adds, there are plenty of outdoorspeople who have no idea of how to keep their bodily wastes from ruining the scenery or poisoning the water supply. Throughout, the author provides precise information about wilderness first aid, ranging from irrigating wounds to applying arterial pressure to keeping someone experiencing a heart attack (a common event outdoors, given that so many people overexert without previous conditioning) alive. Some takeaways: Keep your crotch dry, don’t pitch a tent under a dead tree limb, walk side-hill across mountains, and “do not enter a marsh or swamp in flip-flops, and think twice before entering in strap-on sandals such as Tevas or Chacos.”

A welcome reference, entertaining and information-packed, for any outdoors-inclined reader.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12969-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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HOW DO APPLES GROW?

A straightforward, carefully detailed presentation of how ``fruit comes from flowers,'' from winter's snow-covered buds through pollination and growth to ripening and harvest. Like the text, the illustrations are admirably clear and attractive, including the larger-than-life depiction of the parts of the flower at different stages. An excellent contribution to the solidly useful ``Let's-Read-and-Find-Out-Science'' series. (Nonfiction/Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 1992

ISBN: 0-06-020055-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1991

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