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Seven Million Years Hardcover – 11 Aug 2005


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Orion; New edition edition (11 Aug. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0297844024
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297844020
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 3 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,787,199 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Seven Million Years is continuously interesting, written with style, and a pleasure to read. (NEW SCIENTIST)

Insightful... a really good read. (BBC FOCUS)

Book Description

A voyage into the deep past to discover how we became human, and how modern science is rewriting our family tree.

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3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Dr. D. Fraser on 14 Mar. 2007
Format: Paperback
This book concentrates mainly on the earlier stages of human evolution, looking in considerable detail at the plethara of species in the 7-2 milion frame, and attempting to untangle the compex realtionship between them. The later elements following "out of africa II" are treated in much less detail. Personally, it is the earlier stages of process that most interests me, so this book was ideal for me.

It was very up to date, with inclusion of discoveries from the last few years e.g. in flores man, chad, and kenya etc.

Palmer is probably not as fluent a writer as some of his contempories, Leakey say. So this book is probably best for someone with a fairly serious interest in the topic.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Rgh1066 on 13 Oct. 2007
Format: Hardcover
Douglas Palmer does a good job of marshalling the vast army of theories surrounding our evolutionary origins and of explaining the scientific and palaeoanthropological discoveries supporting them in this sweeping history of human evolution.

I was intrigued by Palmer's sketching the human characteristics of some of the more famous anthropologists. Inevitably one's own character colours how one goes about one's work and his description of Louis Leakey has one wondering at times whether the man was a genius or an idiot! In another chapter, Donald Johanson's introduction as "extremely ambitious" sets one wondering what kind of hatchet job may be in store for the young American. In fact, Johanson escapes with his reputation more or less intact, although the descriptions of the ill-feeling between the French and American archaeologists on the digs that eventually led to the excavation of Lucy are revealing - and, like all of us, Johanson can be made to sound ridiculous when his early claims about what his team had found are examined in the light of thirty-three years' hindsight.

Telling the story of seven million years of human evolution in a little over 250 pages inevitably leaves gaps. There was almost no discussion of the exciting events surrounding the discovery of Peking Man, little depth to the analysis of cave painting, and no mention at all of the work of David Lewis Williams in this field. Likewise, the discoveries of Homo floresiensis and the recently extended timeline for both Homeo erectus and the Neanderthals must have surfaced during Palmer's writing of the book. Homo floresiensis is discussed, but Palmer must have wished he had another year or so to delay publication and consider this important find in a deeper research context.
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Format: Paperback
`Seven million years' attempts to tackle the complicated history of human evolution in just over 256 pages - an ambitious quest since human anthropology has been ongoing for nearly 400 years. It does a good job at this, and is very well written and edited, giving a concise history of the subject without either waffling or missing out important finds. Having said this it requires deep concentration and is not a `light' book.

When I chose to read it I was hoping that it would constitute a chronological history of the Homo genus from its most distant ancestor to modern humans, with details of the habits and lifestyles of the species, how they went extinct and what contribution they made to the homo lineage. In fact it takes a different angle - focusing more on the story of human anthropology itself. The book sticks strictly to describing the history of the discipline, the biology of the finds and their significance in tracing the evolution of our ancestors.

The book is presented in a similar way to a novel - in physical dimensions, paper type and in content layout. Split into ten chapters each with several subchapters it is exclusively text with no photographs, which is a little disappointing. Having said this there are some diagrams and skull illustrations here and there.

`Seven million years' is a tough book to read cover to cover and to be really enjoyed you need a real passion for the subject, and some degree of knowledge to understand the concepts without difficulty. It makes little attempt to `spoon-feed' amateurs like myself, and therefore took me about as long to read as the topic it features! In short an interesting and very well written book, but very hard work.
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Format: Paperback
Douglas Palmer delivers an insightful account of the origins of man together with the stories and accounts of the scientists involved. Little sparing is given to the layman and it may be useful to have access to other refernce books when reading this e.g. the dates for the epochs or stages etc or an atlas.

My initial interest was in the out of Africa story of homo, this book passes a chapter on this. Its main aim is to try to explain the ancestry of homo sapiens and how diificult it is for science.

Well worth the read.
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