This is a large book about a period that, on the face of it, has little excitement to offer. However, 20,000 to 5,000 BC was a time when human `civilisation' was born and in Mithen's hands, the story becomes an epic. Taking each region of the world in turn, Mithen shows how people adapted to the retreating ice and the opportunities that came in its wake. In most places, this meant a change from hunter-gathering to farming and Mithen shows how common themes were repeated around the world by completely disparate communities. Mithen's explanations are good and he never gets waylaid with too much detail (there are extensive footnotes and a bibliography that provides this). He also vividly recreates the past by having a fictitious observer - antiquarian John Lubbock - observe what was happening. These vignettes help to round out the narrative and add an extra level of excitement. The central theme of the book - the warming earth - also has relevance today and, whilst Mithen does not labour the point, it is always there as a menacing subtext. I have always said that this is how archaeology should be written and my own book - Prehistoric Belief - is modelled on After the Ice. This is definitely meant as the sincerest form of complement. So, read Mithen's book - you will enjoy it.