Book Review: Who Came First?

Reading Level

Ages 9-12

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The good folks at National Geographic have another winner with Who Came First?: New Clues to Prehistoric Americans. Written by noted children's author Patricia Lauber, this book paints some theories into a familiar canvas--how did the first Americans get to America.

Updating familiar stories and sources with new technologies and revelation, Lauber has crafted a book that satisifes readers aged 9 to 18. Some of the book, particularly the accounts of how archaeologists go about their work, has the potential to be rather unexciting; but Lauber keeps the reader's interest piqued, using straightforward and compelling prose and presenting the latest data and theories for what caused and resulted from the "great American migration."

The story of the Bering Land Bridge is an old one, but Lauer manages to put a new spin on it by including a map that shares an "iceless" corridor between two huge glaciers--a corridor that stretched for hundreds of miles from Alaska all the way down to South America. It is a fascinating and intriguing possibility to consider and one that seems to answer two of the big questions surrounding the Bering Land Bridge theory--namely, how did the people get where they were going so quickly and how did they know where they were going?

The book includes attractive presentations of such side yet important information like How Carbon-14 Dating Is Done and Finding an Ancient Face, a short discussion of how today's scientists user modern techniques and anatomy knowledge to reconstruct ancient facial structures from skulls.

The most fascinating new theory the author advances will remain undiscussed. Better to read it in her words and get the full effect. Suffice it to say that it is extraordinary and revolutionary and worthy of consideration.

Who are Spirit Cave Man and Kennewick Man? Get this book and find out.


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