It posited the hypothesis that man evolved on the African continent from carnivorous, predatory ancestors who distinguished themselves from apes by the use of weapons. It has been widely read and continues to inspire significant controversy. Robert Ardrey, at the time a working playwright and screenwriter, travelled in to Africa , partly at the behest of Richard Foster Flint , to investigate claims made by Raymond Dart about a specimen of Australopithecus africanus. He met Dart in March Dart, in his laboratory at Witwatersrand University Medical School , had assembled evidence for a controversial thesis.
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Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — African Genesis by Robert Ardrey.
In Ardrey travelled to Africa to examine the collection of the then-obscure paleontologist Raymond Dart. He saw, culled from a cave occupied by early humans, a collection of antelope jawbones perfect for sawing, and antelope forelegs perfect for clubbing. He saw the skull of a juvenile proto-human, apparently bashed in.
A growing body of evidence suggested that man had evolved on the African continent from carnivorous, predatory stock, who had also, long before man, achieved the use of weapons.
An acclaimed dramatist, Ardrey's interest in the African discoveries sprang less from purely scientific grounds than from the radical new light they cast on the eternal question: Why do we behave as we do? Are we naturally inclined towards war and weapons? From to , Ardrey commuted between the museums and libraries and laboratories of the North, and the games reserves and fossil beds of Africa trying to answer that question. The result was African Genesis.
In a sweeping work that encompasses the evolutionary roots of nationalism and patriotism, private property and social order, hierarchy and status-seeking, and even conscience, Ardrey tells a story of man never before heard, and redefines what exactly it means to be human.
Get A Copy. Published by Fontana Books first published More Details Original Title. Robert Ardrey's Nature of Man 1. National Book Award Finalist for Nonfiction Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about African Genesis , please sign up. Is this book available to read online? See 1 question about African Genesis….
Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Start your review of African Genesis. Jan 15, Edward Simpon rated it it was amazing. This book changed my life for good. It answered many questions of life and why the world is the way it is,questions that no one else that I know of could. Although it is a fairly old book and that new scientific updates clarify a few aspects that at the time was speculative.
I found this didn't affect my supreme enjoyment of, the best relevant to everything on this planet literature to come and grace the world. Almost by sheer luck, while I was perusing a messy second hand bookshops natural scien This book changed my life for good.
Almost by sheer luck, while I was perusing a messy second hand bookshops natural science section, I waded through the unorganised piles of dusty old books to the shop keepers amusement haha , lo and behold I found this priceless Gem at the very back of the piles. I'm so pleased to have stumbled upon this book. Yes I believe in the mantra, "nullius in verba", so I've done a lot of researching into what's in contained within this informative book that confirms, in essence that Roberts investigation and result African Genesis was, not in the least instance in vain assuredly definitely NOT for naught.
I found that after the first chapter that, I literally couldn't unengross myself and got by without a couple nights sleep until I completed reading it. I wish I could have met this detective of the Natural World in person so I could shake his hand, for Robert Ardrey has revealed to me, clarity through obscurity. View 2 comments. Nov 20, Quo rated it really liked it Shelves: reviewed , personal-identity , prehistory.
Allee, someone who served as an inspiration. Beyond that, Robert Ardrey was mentored in the craft of writing by Thornton Wilder while at the Univ. African Genesis is so very many things in one but one of the key elements I'd forgotten about is the autobiographical nature of the work, almost playfully inserting footnotes about the author's own life, while at the same time functioning as an imaginative screen writer in creating a tableaux of primate development with very colorful, evocative language.
For example, the author compares the "genetic lottery" each of us is beset with to a hand of poker. And Ardrey uses the American musical West Side Story as a method of demonstrating man's territorial nature, going as far back as "Australopithecus Africanus" in the Pleistocene era, a continuing human quest for territory with early primate origins. We are children of Cain. And were it not so, then for humanity there would be no hope. We are born of risen apes, not fallen angels, and the apes were armed killers besides.
And so what should we wonder at? Or our treaties whatever they may be worth; our symphonies however seldom they may be played; our peaceful acres, however frequently they may be converted into battlefields; our dreams however rarely they may be accomplished. The miracle of man is not how far he has sunk but how magnificently he has risen.
We are known among the stars by our poems, not by our corpses. We are bad-weather animals, disaster's fairest children.
For the soundest of evolutionary reasons, man appears at his best when times are worst. But more than that, the book served as a pathway to so many other important books by authors such as Raymond Dart with whom Ardrey spent considerable time in S.
In a curious sort of way, the book has been with me ever since but only recently did I establish time to reread African Genesis. Yes, much has happened in the world of research on the early archeological roots of mankind as well as competing explanations regarding the behavior of early primates.
At some point, unable to locate my paperback edition from my time in Africa, I wrote away for a used hardcover edition, which when it arrived bore the inscription of William L. My apology for taking so very long to deal with a review of African Genesis Jonathan.
Alas, some of the comments of reviewers at this site betray an almost utter absence of familiarity with the book but I was quite moved by the positive review by Edward Simpon. Jul 05, Katie-Ellen rated it it was amazing. I am currently re-reading this grand, passionate, minutely observed book; an inspiration and an education in its own right, about the nature of the animal, Man, and his place in the natural order. Published in , it is perhaps not completely up to date in every detail, eg, an observation made about the hunting nature of Man suggests Ardrey had not observed chimpanzees group-hunting live prey, where we've since had the benefit of film to show us that chimpanzees do hunt in teams for meat, and I am currently re-reading this grand, passionate, minutely observed book; an inspiration and an education in its own right, about the nature of the animal, Man, and his place in the natural order.
Published in , it is perhaps not completely up to date in every detail, eg, an observation made about the hunting nature of Man suggests Ardrey had not observed chimpanzees group-hunting live prey, where we've since had the benefit of film to show us that chimpanzees do hunt in teams for meat, and how.
Zoology has carried on apace, and added to his findings, but this is a book still far ahead of mainstream educational provision. It is a profound book, and its message stands. Ardrey's many references to the tragic naturalist Eugene Marais point to further reading with profound implications for psychology and philosophy. View all 8 comments. Apr 09, Larry rated it it was amazing Shelves: science , influential-books. This new theory of human evolution opened me to better understanding of my emotional makeup, human behaviors in general, history and focused my attention on our animal nature.
When I had read Hobbs, I began to understand the artificiality that civilization requires. LB Feb 29, Bob Nichols rated it really liked it. Ardrey confronts and counters a Western, romantic view that human nature is benign and that it is only external factors e. Ardrey focuses on two early hominid lines. Initially, both lived in the African forests. Due to climatic changes, these forests dwindled in size, forcing one of the lines Australopithecus africanus to take to the open savannah.
These developments allowed this last ape line that preceded humans to survive by wits alone a non-specialized capacity to solve survival problems by intelligence and social cooperation.
Territory, presumably, defined hunting areas that were essential for survival. The pecking order was based on fear. They underlie all we do. Such is their power that reason is powerless to counter their operation. Ardrey thus takes us to the bottom and then gives us a ray of hope. The instinct for order may be our salvation for we see the destruction that comes with our killing animals, and competitors for territory imperative.
Ardrey sees reason as our only hope. This is not the reason that advances ourselves at the expense of the other, but the reason, through civilization and its laws, that advance the interests of the whole.