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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Demolishing the final pedestal, 17 Oct 2005
By 
Stephen A. Haines (Ottawa, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
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Who will ever replace him? Carl Sagan's writings range from excellent to outstanding, and Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors ranks at the zenith of his efforts. Taking us along the history of life, he vividly explains how close we are to the other animals inhabiting this planet. The theme rests on the continuity of life, from the simplest cells through the complex creatures. Since zoology for so long focused on the 'special place' of humanity in nature, Sagan builds an exceptional case for returning us to our true origins. With the prejudices we've inherited from our various cultures, the task is daunting, but he manages it with irrefutable logic. His prose brings our associates in the animal kingdom into distinct focus, overcoming human penchants for uniqueness with clarity and wit. Copernicus removed us from the centre of the universe. Darwin showed life as an evolutionary process. Sagan removes the final veil of our self aggrandizement.
After a description of DNA's development over the ages, he brings us to our nearest genetic neighbours, the primates. His section titled 'Some Sketches from Life' points up numerous behaviour patterns shared among us all. Communication, grief, vulnerability to illnesses, raising young - the list seems almost endless. The result is the replacement of our 'special status' by a clearer identity as a community of primates. Tell your friends that only 0.4% of our working genes and that of chimpanzees are different. If they dispute you, buy them a copy of this book and sit them down to read it. From the first page they will encounter mind opening ideas. Sagan stresses our kinship with other animals, and begs us all to 'stop pretending we're something we're not' - a dominant species with a mandate to rule the planet and its occupants.
Sagan handles the 'god' question with delicacy. Surprisingly, he makes no assault on deities, but gently goes over the history of life and what we've learned of its mechanisms. Humans who argue that 'consciousness' and the idea of a 'soul' are shown to be illusory. His final analysis simply outlines in brief detail how the process of life has evolved, concluding that deities are simply unnecessary [p. 472]. Read the book and suggest it to friends. Don't let it go, make them buy it. It belongs on your bookshelves. It belongs in everyone's library. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
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5.0 out of 5 stars Forgotten knowledge, 19 May 2014
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This review is from: Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors: A Search for Who We Are (Hardcover)
A book true to itself, its authors and its audience. This should be obligatory in every school, all over the world, because its knowledge its essential, and may be experienced by each and everyone.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How we have become Human Being, 19 April 2003
We can say this book became old in some aspects, as when affirm human beings have 100.000 genes. Nowaday everybody knows we only have 30.000 genes. In spite of this, is very actual in the most important aspects and give us a wide glimpse of how the life began and how the animals and we have evolved.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 1 Oct 2014
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S. A. Moffatt "Bobo" (England) - See all my reviews
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Good value and service.
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Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors: A Search for Who We Are
Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors: A Search for Who We Are by Ann Druyan (Hardcover - Oct 1992)
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