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HOMO BRITANNICUS: The Incredible Story of Human Life in Britain Hardcover – 5 Oct 2006

4.2 out of 5 stars 53 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 319 pages
  • Publisher: Allen Lane; 1st edition (5 Oct. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0713997958
  • ISBN-13: 978-0713997958
  • Product Dimensions: 19.9 x 2.6 x 25.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 469,325 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


'A superlative achievement. HOMO BRITANNICUS is pure stimulation
from beginning to end.' -- Bill Bryson

'Essential reading for all those interested in human history - or,
indeed, in the story of the British landscape.' -- Richard Fortey

'This important and eminently readable book pulls together all the
best scientific work on the first humans to inhabit Britain.' -- Tony Robinson

This is a fantastically accessible science book laced with mystery
and intrigue.If you read one book this year,make it this.
-- Sally Palmer, Focus Magazine December 2006

‘This is a beautiful book on a fascinating subject, written by the
world authority. What more could one ask?’ -- Richard Dawkins

About the Author

Chris Stringer is Britain's foremost expert on human origins and works in the Department of Palaeontology at the Natural History Museum. He currently directs the Ancient Human Occupation of Britain project, aimed at reconstructing the first detailed history of how and when Britain was occupied by early humans. His previous books include African Exodus: The Origins of Modern Humanity and The Complete World of Human Evolution.

Inside This Book

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First Sentence
'All that is really known of the ancient state of Britain is contained in a few pages. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
'A delightful addition to his previous 'Complete World of Human Evolution', Homo Britannicus, written by Chris Stringer, offers a fascinating account of the history of human occupation in Britain from the first evidence of hominid activity circa 700,000-500,000 years ago to the arrival of modern humans about 12,000 years ago. In addition to being of erudite specialist interest to his peers and students in palaeontology and archaeology, this clearly written book -- which offers useful additional background in text and illustrations, humour and a share of the author's own experiences -- is a real pleasure to read for the lay person with little knowledge of these disciplines. After a thorough study of the role of climatic changes in the history of human adaptation to, or extinction from, new environments, Chris Stringer ends his book with a crucial appeal for our common responsability in preserving our future, threatened by global warming today, not tomorrow. Essential for learning about the past, this is palaeontology at its best use for the present and future. Anyone interested in the complete story of the British Isles should read this book without delay'.
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Format: Hardcover
For a good many schoolchildren [too many, IMV], the history of Britain begins with Julius Caesar crossing the Channel. Confronted by resistance by the "blue people", he forcefully pushed the Island Kingdom into the historical arena. This outlook is regrettably shortsighted, as Chris Stringer makes vividly clear in this stunning account of pre-historic Britain. Although the first early human finds didn't occur there, the concept of "Stone Age" was vigorously debated in Britain as the artefacts and fossils emerged in view, particularly in the 19th and early 20th Centuries. Moreover, it was British scholars like John Hutton and Charles Lyell who took the lead in extending the age of the Earth. That extension led to speculation and investigation of who and what had come before, demolishing the view of yet another Englishman, James Ussher who had postulated an Earth "created" in October of 4004 BCE. In short, stratigraphy began replacing Scripture.

Stringer explains how Britain was subjected to several "invasions" long before the Roman political martyr was glorified, then assassinated. These invasions weren't for booty or slaves, but for dinner. Changes in climate resulted in changes in sea level, with Britain forming a peninsula of Europe many times over the millennia. Another result of climate led to large parts of that peninsula being sheathed in ice, rendering it uninhabitable ' to human or other invaders. They made it, finally, with the first human artefacts being dated at 700 000 years ago. They weren't dining on mutton, however. It was deer, rabbits, and astonishingly, hippopotamus. The image Stringer offers of hippos crossing the Mediterranean and swimming along the Atlantic littoral to reach what is now Suffolk, isn't one easily dismissed from memory.
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Format: Hardcover
This book introduces the reader to the science behind the early human habitation of Britain by putting the people into their individual contexts of climate and the depending geography, fauna and flora. It gives a clear and detailed account of the various schools of thought that prevailed at one time or another and introduces us to human evolution through fossilised human remains and the development of hand tools, as well as the science behind understanding ice ages and interglacials. The language is not too scientific and easily understandable to the layman, just once or twice later on in the book he succumbs to the temptation of name-dropping a specific scientific term without further explanation. The illustrations, maps and photographs are first class and go some way towards providing the reader with a clear understanding of what this book is all about, so I would always prefer the hardcover edition to the paperback. I have to agree with some of the other reviewers that the last chapter (about future climate change) seems a bit out of place in a book about palaeontology; he does have a point in that humankind has always been very vulnerable to climate change, be it for better or worse, but to devote an entire chapter to it in which he is speculating and appears to be sermonising, is simply not in line with the rest of the book which is solidly grounded in scientific fact. In the appendix we have an opportunity to meet the core members of AHOB as well as one of their associate members and it was great to read about their obvious enthusiasm and their various and diverse backgrounds that come together to make this project so successful, but to have 25 pages of it was stretching my patience a little bit.

On the whole, a very worthwhile book and excellent introduction to a fascinating subject that whets the appetite for more.
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Format: Hardcover
Homo Britannicus by Prof Chris Stringer, is a thoughtful account of human life in Britain from the earliest evidence at Pakefield, Happisburg and Boxgrove(700 ka - 500 ka) to more modern occupation by the Neaderthals at Swanscombe (300 ka), and early homo sapiens, who arrived circa 12,000 years ago, following the last gacial phase. There is nothing too technical to understand for the lay reader, who knows little of human evolution, yet plenty to satisfy the thirstful knowledge of the more accomplished palaeontological/archaeological reader.

The book combines achaeological evidence, with Chris's own experiences as Britains foremost authority on human evolution, and makes compelling reading, for anyone interested in the history of the British Isles.

I thouroughly recomend Homo Britannicus as a more discerning Christmas present this year.
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