the use of dramatization of the Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon was interesting but at times it becomes kitchy in a post modern "early humans were all friends" kind of way. However teh information was excellent and well presented.
This was an interesting topic but the book got bogged down at times with information that was too complicated for a someone whose area of expertise is not pre-history, archaeology or anthropology. (particular the former two, I think).
Perhaps others will disagree and find the dense discussion more accessible than I did. However, I don't consider myself a complete neophyte on the subject: I took a graduate level course on ancient technology that covered flintknapping and other technologies. As an art instructor, I am familar with Lascaux and Chauvet and the Venus of Willendorf among others.
There were several times when I wanted the author to just skip the correct terminology and jump to the part where he tells us what it means. There were several other times when I felt a little confused about whether the evidence he'd just outlined supported or refuted the claim he had made at the beginning of the thought. And at least once I wondered why he said that "obviously" wasn't correct. Why was it obvious? Why not remind us? This is a long detailed history, why skip a little "obvious" bit like that?
I listened to this book in my studio while working on several projects. It was a good mellow story, interesting enough to give my mind something to do without being a distraction. I do not recommend listening to this book while driving. The author's voice lulls you into a sleepy state.
I thoroughly enjoyed both Part 1 (Neanderthals and the emergence of early modern man) and Part 2 (differences between remnants of known Cro-Magnon sites life and what they hint about the differences in lifestyle, climate and locale).
The speculation as to the daily lives of the people was as interesting as the facts - with carbon-dating, geological surveys, archaeological digs, current (or relatively recent) practices of Arctic, African and Aboriginal dwellers, all contributing.
Don't you just love a great story well told?
I can truly picture and wonder at the "cave-man's" cleverness, now I understand cave paintings FAR beyond the simple explanation by a professor of "sympathetic magic" with some solid theories on their meaning and purpose.
The author is also frank on the many things, besides art, we will never learn.
You'll understand as the archaeologist/writer assumes no prior knowledge.
Described are: how they hunted, tools, interactions with peers (while Neanderthals watched silently). You have permission to use the "TH" as in "think" to say "Neanderthal" despite being corrected to "NeanderTal" by the snobby as real archaeologists use the former normally.
Also, while we've heard of asteroids causing apocalypses, it was astonishing to learn vast extinctions were also caused by HUGE volcanic eruptions (The relatively recent Krakatoa volcano was a firecracker in comparison.) leading to "nuclear winter" type weather for years leading to massive extinctions.
It will answer competing theories on the Cro-Magnon origins.
You'll learn, without boredom, about the lives & progress and unique devices created by these amazing beings.
The book covers several ice age & warming trends over epochs of time. (Mild political note to any who might use that climate change info. to bolster claims that "Warming periods are common and so normal!", to which the reply would be yes, they are....over THOUSANDS of years, NOT over a single century.)
The production is terrific with regard to narration and editing.
This is a must-read as well-written non fiction gets the 5 * distinction. Lifetime learning is fun!
Addicted to Audible since 2009
I am very interested in this topic but much of this book was dry and boring. I wish there were some visualizations or PDFs, especially when discussing the cave paintings. As for the narrator, he definitely did not help make this title anymore interesting but he wasn't bad. Had I not been so interested in the topic itself then I would have stopped listening to this title and would have just watched a documentary on the same topic via TV.
I thought this was an excellent look at our ancestors and extinct close relatives as well as some of the theories on how man became the dominant species on the planet.
I know in many of the reviews people criticized the speculative narrative that the author has put together on what life was like for these groups of individuals. The narrative added to my personal enjoyment of this book. I think anyone reading this realizes that we can only speculate by filling in the missing pieces with the hard evidence that archaeological finds provide.
I thought the narration of this book was excellent.
The author provided a narrative that kept me interested balanced with providing evidence to support the author story.
One interesting comment; I think the author gives a the benefit of the doubt to our ancestors regarding the now extinct Neanderthals. Any casual study of human nature and its brutality would definitely indicate that there probably was significant conflict between humans and Neanderthals that led to their extinction. I did like the authors less heavy-handed take that it's possible these two groups live side-by-side even if it was cautiously with little interaction.
If you're interested in the topic of evolution or the history of early man. I highly recommend this book!
My preference for a good story is something totally unusual and not run of the mill stuff. Give me something I haven't heard before.
This was a good visual book. A bit long and drawn out but generally pretty informative. I like the archeological findings parts the best.
This book is chocked full of interesting and amazing information, but it's not well suited to the audible format. Very lengthly passages consist of dates in seemingly random order. There is an urgent need to put things together in a graphical format to make sense of it all. Suggested graphics:
1. Timetable of ice ages
2. Earliest and latest finds for each homid discussed
3 Maps of theoretical migrations with species and dates
It's still worth it, but really frustrating.
It's been over a decade since I last paid much attention to the story of the Neanderthal / Cro-Magnon era of pre-history. Brian Fagan's book filled in the gaps in my knowledge and delivered an excellent history.
Although the book is entitled "Cro-Magnon," the first part (almost the first half, really) tells the story of the Neanderthals and what we know about the fate of the Neanderthals when anatomically modern humans arrived. This is a very interesting puzzle and it is framed well and told effectively. The second part of the book goes into modern humans' struggle through Ice Ages, super-volcanic eruptions and more.
Yes, the subject (paleo-anthropology) is somewhat on the dry side, but the author livens it up pretty well.
James Langton's reading is quite good, except for one point that irritated the heck out of me: I've always heard that the proper pronunciation of Neanderthal is "Neandertal," but Langton pronounced the "th" like in "theta."
The performance of this book is fine. However, the book is just not very good. The information is outdated: e.g. Fagan says that Neanderthals and Cro-Magnon didn't interbreed. However, DNA analysis shows that most humans outside of Africa have an average of 3% Neanderthal DNA. Moreover, the majority of the book appears to be long narrative detours about how the Cro-Magnon people lived. The narrative is completely made up and Fagan only infrequently connects it to any scientific arguments or discoveries. Moreover, the narrative is pretty boring because we know so little about that era. If you're interested in human evolution, look at the Great Course on "The Rise of Humans" by John Hawks. It is a much better introduction to the science, the different species of pre-humans, the genetics, and the history of paleoanthropology and archaeology. It's also current to 2014.