SELF-MADE MAN by Jonathan Kingdon


Email this review


 Kingdon (Zoology/Oxford) examines human evolution with the idea that--beginning with the earliest stone axes and sharpened sticks--technology has been part of the human environment and, therefore, has influenced evolution. The author begins by looking at the various hominids that preceded modern Homo sapiens and by attempting to see how they fit into their ecological niches--first as savannah-dwellers in East Africa, then as emigrants to Asia and Europe by various routes. He pays special attention to the coastline route, along which an important early culture developed: the ``strandlopers,'' who appeared circa 120,000-150,000 B.C. Perfecting their way of life on the Indian Ocean's shores, the strandlopers developed rafts, then boats--originally to increase their ability to harvest the abundant food supply of the oceans. The result was their spread far beyond their original homeland, to the Pacific islands and Australia--and to Africa, to blend their genes back into the home continent's rich mix. Kingdon doesn't ignore the devastation that humans have wrought practically from the very beginning--wiping out entire ecologies even with primitive weapons. He contends that we've learned little from our millennia of experience: Witness the continued unchecked growth of human numbers. Thought-provoking, information-packed fare for general readers as well as paleoanthropology buffs. (One hundred photos, maps, and drawings, including sketches by Kingdon of humans of various races and cultures, showcasing the diversity of the species.)

Pub Date: Sept. 10th, 1993
ISBN: 0-471-30538-3
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Wiley
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1993


NonfictionBUNCH OF AMATEURS by Jack Hitt
by Jack Hitt