Graduate student in philosophy and classics (i.e. Greek & Latin)
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 The information is outdated: e.g. Fagan says that Neanderthals and Cro-Magnon didn't interbreed.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.
Really enjoyed the book. The level of detail gives you people places and institutes to use for further research. Excellent.
I like to imagine what life was like for early humans. This book does allow the reader to do so while taking considerable care to back the imagery with agreed upon facts. It becomes a bit tedious with all measures cited in metric and non-metric units and vast spans of time described from multiple anchor points ie from the present, BC, from the last glacial maxima etc.
A neat portrayal of the early days of humans and what our day to day lives could have been like. I learned a lot about early humans, Neanderthals, and some of the related subspecies. The comparisons between Cro Magnons and Neanderthals were particularly interesting to me. I'm really into this topic, so I devour whatever I can get. A better book I read on the same general topic recently was Last Ape Standing by Chip Walter, but unfortunately no audio version of that book is available yet. Some reviewers have griped about the amount of speculation that is nessesary for Cro Magnon to have the feel of a collection of short stories. I enjoyed the format myself, and understand that the speculation is based in science. Speculation allows for a better mental image of what things must have been like back then. The narration was decent. I've heard worse, I've heard better.
If you're a junky for this kind of stuff like I am, you'll find this book to be worthwhile, albeit not amazing. If you're just a little curious about the subject, but haven't read much on it, I would say that you might enjoy some others more.
This book was an excellent look at the lives, history, culture of the Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal and peoples. The discoveries set forth in this book really helped explain a lot of the lineage of how people spread from Africa, through Europe and Asia and eventually populated the world. It also dealt with the seemingly impossible situations of everyday life that they had to overcome and learn by experience. When I hear people today talk about harsh conditions, and the suffering that they're going through now, there's no comparison!
I've been a vegetarian for almost 30 years, and one thing that I learned in reading this book, was that people have eaten meat (probably through scavenging carcasses that were left behind by predators and animals dying via natural death and accidents) from almost the beginning of time when they could first catch an animal, it is the actual agricultural cultivation of plants and vegetables that began about 10,000 years ago.
I would highly recommend this excellent book!
This is very engaging and interesting, and Fagan's scholaship seems competent, but he keeps lapsing into make-believe scenarios that are fictional accounts of what early man must have felt like or what he was thinking. I find such storytelling out of place in what is a scientific study, even one written for the general public.
...With his little tableau of a modern day nuclear family [hunter, "wife"(!), one girl, one boy]. The boy frolics, a Neanderthal appears, the children panic, mother comforts, father menaces. Come on, with this kind of ignorant and ill-considered anachronism, what could possibly be expected from the rest of the book? Anthropological, zoological, and archeological evidence all argue for the extended family unit, comprising, most often, enate family groupings of hunter/gatherers. So why should we believe whatever he says next?
Many thanks to the reviewer who suggested skipping Part 1. I'll try Part II to see in any actual data enliven the narrative.