Before the Dawn: Recovering the Lost History of Our Ancestors

Front Cover
Penguin, 2006 - Science - 312 pages
127 Reviews
Based on a groundbreaking synthesis of recent scientific findings, an acclaimed New York Times science reporter tells a bold and provocative new story of the history of our ancient ancestors and the evolution of human nature

Just in the last three years a flood of new scientific findings-driven by revelations discovered in the human genome-has provided compelling new answers to many long-standing mysteries about our most ancient ancestors-the people who first evolved in Africa and then went on to colonize the whole world. Critically acclaimed New York Times science reporter Nicholas Wade weaves this host of news-making findings together for the first time into an intriguing new history of the human story before the dawn of civilization. Sure to stimulate lively controversy, he makes the case for novel arguments about many hotly debated issues such as the evolution of language and race and the genetic roots of human nature, and reveals that human evolution has continued even to today.

In wonderfully lively and lucid prose, Wade reveals the answers that researchers have ingeniously developed to so many puzzles: When did language emerge? When and why did we start to wear clothing? How did our ancestors break out of Africa and defeat the more physically powerful Neanderthals who stood in their way? Why did the different races evolve, and why did we come to speak so many different languages? When did we learn to live with animals and where and when did we domesticate man's first animal companions, dogs? How did human nature change during the thirty-five thousand years between the emergence of fully modern humans and the first settlements?

Wade takes readers to the forefront of research in a sweeping and engrossing narrative unlike any other, the first to reveal how genetic discoveries are helping to weave together the perspectives of archaeology, paleontology, anthropology, linguistics, and many other fields. This will be the most talked about science book of the season.
  

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
49
4 stars
47
3 stars
21
2 stars
4
1 star
6

Great compendium of recent research on human evolution. - Goodreads
It is a wonderful book full of bon mots and insight. - Goodreads
But I enjoyed listening very much and got an overview. - Goodreads

Review: Before the Dawn: Recovering the Lost History of Our Ancestors

User Review  - Ray Wilkett - Goodreads

An excellent overview of the history of our species since the first appearance of anatomically modern humans. Traces the development of modern behavior, human migration, and genetic diversity. This ... Read full review

Review: Before the Dawn: Recovering the Lost History of Our Ancestors

User Review  - Lucy - Goodreads

Not bad as a general survey and I liked the writing style, but all the things mentioned in this book can be read from other well-written popular science books that have dived deeper. Besides, this book contains too many speculations. Read full review

Contents

Genetics Genesis
5
First Words
35
Eden
51
Exodus
75
Stasis
100
Settlement
123
Sociality
139
Race
181
Language
202
History
233
Evolution
264
Notes
281
Acknowledgments
297
About the Author
313
Copyright

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (2006)

Nicholas Wade is a longtime reporter for The New York Times Science Times section, which studies by the Times have shown is the most popular section of the paper around the country. Before writing for the Times, Wade was the deputy editor of Nature magazine in London, one of the world's most prestigious science publications, and a reporter for Science magazine, the world's premier science journal. He is the author or coauthor of four previous books.

Bibliographic information