Fossil Men: The Quest for the Oldest Skeleton and the Origins of Humankind
Fossil Men is largely a book about U.C. Berkeley, beginning in the “Neo-Babylonian complex of the Valley Life Science Building.” Once Covid restrictions lift, you can see the display there of “Lucy” and “Ardi”–the fossils that have waited three or four million years for your visit. In addition to being science writing of a high order on these discoveries in Africa, Pattison’s book has the R-rated episodes that sometimes accompany academic arguments. If you think science proceeds with the decorum of Scrabble, you will see that discoveries can more closely resemble a thirty-year war. The controversies seem to have benefited Berkeley undergraduates who took some engaging courses. Rough as paleoanthropology can be, Berkeley led the field in escaping a colonial mindset. Professor Tim D. White recruited internationally and leveraged Berkeley funds to bring Ethiopians here and to see that they controlled their discoveries.
Emeritus professor, Graduate School of Journalism
Former University Librarian
This book is part of the 2021 Berkeley Summer Reading List. View this book on Overdrive. Stay tuned for more weekly posts!