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Excellent read: ideal mix of academic rigour and captivating writing,
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This review is from: How To Think Like a Neandertal (Hardcover)
This is a truly excellent read that mixes academic rigour, real research data/reporting and the latest theories (at least at the time of publication) with a very captivating writing style. It is both engaging, intellectually challenging, humorous (at least in places) and a real page turner. I'd rate this of being of interest to both the specialist and more interested lay reader.
I brought this having read Palaeolithic archaeology at university and having worked for a couple of years in a research/field capacity, so I could be considered reasonably knowledgeable on the subject. But that was over 15 years ago now and so this had lots of finds, data and theories that I was not up to date with. It was a great way to get right up to date on various theories and finds in this intersting area of the palaeolithic. Whilst it might help being somewhat aware of archaeology, I don't think it would be essential to get lots out of this book. It is written in such a style that it really does provide all of the information the reader needs as they go along. It contains a reasonable glossary but I didn't need to refer to that when reading, as the authors did a good job of clearly defining terms, contexts and places as they went along. I must say I really liked the way they did that - that kind of writing can help open up interesting academic areas of study and I think shows a writer/scientist that is really interested in communicating their subject. Rather than just an academic using complex words as a mask of intellectual elitism. That or a good editor.
From the nature of the subject, the book does get a bit weaker towards the end, as the theroy gets more distant from the physical archaeological record. The dreams section is the weakest from my perspective and I did find myself wondering at times. I was still keen to read on though. The authors clearly explain their rationale for this section and are open that this is indeed the weakest part of their theory. They do it in a totally captivating way.
An excellent read all round. It made me wish I'd stayed in archaeology and will certainly get me reading some more in this area.