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Lone Survivors: How We Came to Be the Only Humans on Earth Hardcover – 13 Mar 2012

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Melia Publishing Services Ltd (13 Mar 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805088911
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805088915
  • Product Dimensions: 16.4 x 3.9 x 24.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 843,434 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Stringer, Chris

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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Richard E. Ashcroft on 25 Oct 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book is excellent, but British buyers need to be aware that this is the American edition of what in Britain is published as The Origin of Our Species. I managed to buy both editions, not realising that they were the same book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By angela on 8 Nov 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It you want the paperback edition of 'The Origin of Our Species', this is it!! Published in the USA and with a different title (why?) by a different publisher. Please look at the bottom of the ISBN page - in very small print. It's a marvellous book - just don't buy both, as I did.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Leighton Evans on 13 Jun 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am now waiting for my order to arrive and i can say that i a not impressed. I already own the origin of our species which is a excellent book, however the fact that it is titled differently and does not state so in the description is hugely irritating. The Star rating is for the origin of species and not for the sellers description and services.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 86 reviews
170 of 176 people found the following review helpful
Human Origins Explained, and Explained Superbly! 2 April 2012
By Chris - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Chris Stringer's "Lone Survivors: How We Came to be the Only Humans on Earth" comes along some seventeen years after his ground-breaking book "African Exodus: The Origins of Modern Humanity" (Henry Holt, 1996). Stringer is one of the principal architects and proponents of the "Out-of-Africa" (OOA) hypothesis associated with the origin and dispersal of anatomically modern humans, i.e., Homo sapiens. According to Stringer and the OOA hypothesis, anatomically modern humans evolved in Africa nearly 200,000 years ago, and then 'something' happened about 50,000 years ago that resulted in essentially the relatively rapid spread of our species into much of Eurasia, eastern Asia, Indonesia and Australia, and into western Europe over a period of about 10,000 years! What is even more remarkable is that it now appears that there were other populations of archaic Homo species that we coexisted and/or competed with for a time, likely including Homo erectus, Homo neanderthalensis, and the newly discovered little people of Flores, Homo floresiensis.

In just under 280 pages, Chris Stringer takes the reader through the history of our human origins with the fossil evidence. He synthesizes the latest advances in knowledge associated with paleoclimatology, geochronological dating methods, and geology and plate tectonics. Most importantly, Stringer spends much of the book talking about the evolution of human behavior (e.g., developing and utilizing technology, use of symbolism, developing survival and coping strategies, burial of dead, etc.). The evolutionary steps leading to Homo sapiens wasn't a given. It was really a very near run thing, and without the ability to rapidly adapt and respond to changing climate conditions and subsequent changed ecological conditions modern humans could quite likely have become extinct just as our close cousins, the Neanderthals, did about 30,000 years ago. For example, the massive supervolcanic eruption of Toba on the island of Java was very nearly a game-changer for all human species about 73,000 years ago. Finally, over the past couple of decades or so, much of the OOA hypothesis has been validated and bolstered with the results of numerous studies and analyses of mitochondrial DNA and Y-chromosome DNA. In other words, we really and truly are all African.

While all of this discussion of fossils, paleoconditions, and genetics may sound a bit daunting, complicated, or even off-putting, Dr. Stringer does a sterling job of leading the reader--whether layperson or specialist--through the data and evidence with his well-written and entertaining prose. I've kind of come to realize that Stringer and his peers--paleoanthropologists--are really much akin to detectives hot on the trail to better understand when we became who we are, and how we became who we are, and perhaps even be able to answer why. This book will definitely help you get your arms (and brain) around the critical issues and questions associated with what makes us human

In closing, it is my opinion that Chris Stringer's incredibly thought-provoking Chapter 8 of the book, "Making A Modern Human" ought to be required reading by all of us. I don't know that I have underlined more passages or made more marginalia notes in a book since I left college in the mid-1980s. Reading this book, and Chapter 8 in particular, has stimulated a desire in me to chase down a lot of the technical references and journal articles that Dr. Stringer has provided in the book's extensive bibliography. This is a subject that profoundly fascinates me, and I am committed to educate myself and better understand my human origins, and have nothing but admiration and gratitude to Chris Stringer for inspiring me toward this end. All I can say is read Lone Survivors, it really is one of the most comprehensive overviews of the current state-of-knowledge associated with our human origins that I've read.
50 of 51 people found the following review helpful
difficult but informative read 14 Oct 2012
By DaLaoHu - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I'm having a tough time deciding whether to give this book three stars or four. This is a very informative book, no doubt about that. If you're a layperson like me interested in the latest developments in the field of human origins, this book provides a wealth of up-to-date information and will also lead you into new ways of thinking about the subject. For instance, in my case, although it seems so obvious in retrospect, I never considered how important such a simple thing as population size was to the ultimate evolution of our species. But of course, ancient human populations were not necessarily expansive, as I had always tended to think of them, but at times could have been (and most likely were) limited to very small pockets of survivors, greatly impacting their ultimate chances for survival. And perhaps more importantly, greatly impacting the results of any survival. (Which leads to the further question, which the author puts forward: how many pockets like these might there have been which we do not yet even know about?)

And for this wealth of knowledge I give it four stars. This is a book well worth reading. You will be gifted with a thorough and thought-provoking survey of most of the recent trends and discoveries concerning the subject of human origins.

But, oh, the writing and editing ... It seems to me this book was a rush job, that with the field changing so quickly, both the author and editor felt compelled to get it to the market fast. And the text suffers for it. There are far too many references that are not adequately followed up on or placed out of context. Often the reader is left to simply scratch his head and wonder: what? And perhaps then wonder why even bother to continue. The chapter on dating techniques is almost unbearable. A little time and thought could have corrected many of these problems, but the editor(s) didn't seem to have or give much time and thought to it. And for that I am wanting to demote it to three stars.

But the light at the end of the tunnel, the one saving grace, is this: That each succeeding chapter tends to get easier to read than the one preceding. And in consequence, more interesting. So that if you can plow through the first eighty pages or so, you will get rewarded the rest of the way through. And even more so the further you read.
50 of 51 people found the following review helpful
Please read this book... 10 April 2012
By J. Borree - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Lone Survivor, titled Origin of Our Species in the UK, is an up-to-date overview of the science and speculation about our species' nature and survival. I found it well written and enjoyable but confusing at times because of a lack of headings of the different sections in the chapters. Springer changes topics and develops ideas within each chapter that could have been emphasized and organized by sub-headings.
The author deals mainly with the origins, cultures and travels of Erectus, Heidelbergensis, the Neanderthals and Sapiens. So, the book is focused on our species as the "lone survivor" with passing references to much earlier species. Springer also pays attention to the Neanderthals and, I believe, is up-to-date in the DNA science. I especially liked Springer's theory that cultures both grow and degenerate, explaining that physical and cultural changes may not be linear. He touches on art, language, and possible spiritual beliefs. Only occasionally did the author's suppositions not get labelled as such. For example, he mentioned that we are the only species to remember our dreams...
While this book is not a pure academic presentation nor a basic book nor summer beach read, it is written by an experienced scientist who is still entranced with his subject. I came away from this book with much more knowledge, the feeling that I had almost been in a conversation with the author and an admiration for the multiple hominids that walked all over this planet.
This book is worth a read and re-read! It has, by the way, a great bibliography. For more reviews, please check with AmazonUK.
54 of 64 people found the following review helpful
Uh, where are we now? 15 Aug 2012
By Andrea Matthews - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This book seems clearly intended for a lay audience (no footnotes or endnotes, lots of background info), but seems to me to be suffering from a case of "expertitis." I got about halfway through the book and became so befuddled with the cloud of information that I just gave up. I agree with Velho that a stronger editor's hand was needed, at least to bring out the substructure of Stringer's discussion so that the educated layperson could actually track and remember it. On the macro-scale, the chapters give the reader some help, and on the micro-scale, Stringer's prose is comfortable and engaging. Unfortunately in between it gets very disorienting - like having a map with only countries and no towns, or only towns and no connecting streets. Once I began to feel that, I looked around more critically and noticed that the illustrations (mostly photos of fossil remains and a couple of maps) seemed just plopped into the book in random locations, often far from where their subject matter was discussed in the text; there should also have been many more illustrations, tightly linked to the text, given the many relatively unfamiliar names that came up in his argument. An editor should have caught that and with a little effort the book could have been greatly improved for its (apparent) target audience.
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Duplicate books 11 July 2012
By Bookworm - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Caution: As another reviewer noted, this is the same book as Stringer's The Origin of Our Species, published in the UK. Nowhere in Amazon's description is this stated, and since one was published in 2011 and the other in 2012, I thought they were different and ordered both titles. The book is an interesting survey of recent research, focused on the way genetics is clarifying much that was in the fossil record. I recommend the book, but it seems silly to have changed the title and cover when it crossed the ocean. Very confusing.
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