Score: 96/100 (9.6 out of 10)
This book made us all collectively go “WOW!” Wow, wow, wow. What more do we have to say but wow? This book by the brilliant Dr. John Bennett is a great collection of educational, historical detail and philosophical discussions regarding humanity, the evolution of our species in relation to the changing Earth, and humanity's search for higher meaning. Wow. Well, that's a lot to unpack!
You can just tell that Dr. Bennett did his research. You can also tell the passion he put into this. You can tell the rounds of edits and revisions he put this through.
We read this over the course of about a week, and it seemed like every day we had something interesting to say or discuss about it. For example, we were like, “Did you know that meteorite in Mexico that killed the dinosaurs created a tsunami that was 100 meters high?!” or “Did you know that some of the hominids may have interbred or that some of them like the Neanderthals lived around the same time as Homo Sapiens?”
And, of course, we had to have a 30 minute conversation about how cool chimpanzees are, how close they are to us genetically, and how cute and fluffy they are.
This book takes you from the beginning—to scientific Adam—to see the kind of world he must've lived in and the challenges he must've faced. It shows you how humans and human-like creatures may have evolved, adapting to changes such as the climate, predators, and food availability. We go through multiple epochs or critical periods in Earth's history, each one with its own interesting stories to tell. What's very apparent is that despite all we know, there are even more things we don't know and have to make educated-guesses about because evidence is sparse or non-existent. We have to assume a lot about what certain tools were used for because, obviously we weren't there to see it.
There are so many interesting things to explore in this book! There are the fossil remains of hominids. There are their tools. There are their footprints and cave drawings. And speaking of caves, you even get to uncover some of the secrets of the caves near Gibraltar. There are even sections on the development of hominids and civilizations in East and South Asia, Mesopotamia, Africa, and more that are just a joy to read. They're fascinating!
Something that's also interesting about this book is that despite all the scientific knowledge the author has, they're not dismissive of the topic of peoples' belief systems. In fact, a lot of this book speculates about how or why these belief systems came to be across the globe. For example, the author wonders if ritual burials or funerals may have indicated a growing concept of an afterlife. The author's stated goal is to seek a way to harmonize these beliefs with what can be scientifically proven. It's actually very fascinating. So is this pseudo-science? Actually, no. Almost every statement is backed up with at least some reputable source and/or evidence. Almost everything is questioned, and we're invited to question everything. That's science. True science leaves no stone unturned and no hypothesis unconsidered. At the same time, true science makes as few assumptions as possible, and Dr. Bennett seems to accomplish this balance between what we can safely speculate and what we know for sure.
So, congratulations to Dr. Bennett on his impressive book on the history of the human species! You've joined a very exclusive list of 9.6-rated books!
Check it out on Amazon!