Reviews

Book2

Praise for Them+Us

 

don_burke_2ue“I couldn’t put it down once I’d started reading it.. I don’t think I’ve enjoyed a book more than ‘Them and Us’ in my life.”

Don Burke. Radio 2UE. 24th Sept. 2009

Goodreads: Book reviews, recommendations, and discussion            4.5 stars2

Them+Us Them+Us
byDanny Vendramini
4.7 of 5 stars 4.7 avg rating — 19 ratings — published 2009 — 1 edition

“Danny Vendramini presents a truly unique and innovative picture of the role of Neandertal predation in human evolution… Vendramini pulls together countless different threads of scientific evidence to re-cast Neanderthals as “apex predators”, proverbial “wolves with knives” who were effective rivals with our ancestors…. It has been a long time since I read a book about human evolution that I enjoyed so much.”

Associate Professor John J. Shea. Anthropology Department & Turkana Basin Institute, Stony Brook University, New York


“Sometimes it takes an outsider to cut through the most intractable problems of science. That is what Vendramini’s approach offers the reader in his daring claims about the interactions between humans and their most famous evolutionary relatives, the Neanderthals.”

Archaeologist, Iain Davidson, Emeritus Professor of Archaeology, University of New England, Australia. Visiting Professor of Australian Studies, Harvard University


“We’ve been called the ‘third chimpanzee’. Instead, Vendramini asks: Why are we such a distinctively odd primate species — anatomically, behaviourally, and beset by dark atavistic fears? His thesis that intensive predation by Neanderthals enforced rapid, protective, evolutionary changes offers innovative insight into the many things about ‘us’ that we might otherwise take for granted. A well-argued case to be answered.”

Tony McMichael, Professor of Population Health, NHMRC Australia Fellow National Centre for Epidemiology & Population Health. The Australian National University. Canberra


“Vendramini gives a significant hypothesis that is well buttressed with evidence, much of it drawn from the existing literature. It is a sound argument, well argued, and it should be more widely known and considered.”

Phillip Ellis, AustralianReader.com
23 November 2010


‘A BOLD HYPOTHESIS’
“In reading this book, I could not help but think of Alfred Wegener’s hypothesis of Continental Drift, put forward in 1915. Wegener’s hypothesis was scorned by many at the time and it was not until the 1960s, with the understanding of plate tectonics, that an underlying mechanism to support his hypothesis was provided. Vendramini’ provides a similarly bold hypothesis about human origins.”

Ian Keese, ISAA Review, Vol 10,1. 2011


“A daring, possibly revolutionizing theory, well-reasoned and well researched.”

Professor Johan van der Dennen, author of ‘The Origins of War’


“A thought provoking outside-the-square theory which may or may not ruffle the feathers of the scientific establishment”.

Dr Ben McHenry, Palaeontologist, South Australian Museum


“Them + Us is stunning intellectual step towards understanding the behaviour and disposition of “modern man”, especially homo sapiens’ inability as a species to yet surmount the deep habits of fearful, aggressive and xenophobic behaviour. The huge span of subject matter integrated into the central thesis of Neandertal predation of Cro Magnon man provides an architecture of human development as fundamental as ‘The Origin of the Species’. Congratulations and thank you.”

Jock Lee, Rhodes Scholar


“A fascinating and thought- provoking idea; the perfect basis for an epic Hollywood blockbuster.”

Dr Gavin Prideaux, School of Biological Sciences, Flinders University.


“This book could, hopefully will, bring about revolutionary and productive changes in our understanding of human nature.”

Dr. Andrew Bell, author of Creative Health

BOOK REVIEW by Phillip Ellis

Editor: AustralianReader.com

23 November 2010

http://badgers-rock.blogspot.com/2010/11/them-and-us.html

http://australianreader.com

Danny Vendramini, Them + Us (Armidale : Kardoorair Press, 2009)

ISBN 978-0-90824477-5     $39.95.

 I remember, in the closing days of my time as a Christian, that a tract’s argument that the (presumably only) Neanderthal skeleton was only that of an individual with a severe case of arthritis. I mention it here, because, in the history of palaeontology, our reconstructions of what early hominids have must have seemed has changed, often to suit the biases of the perceivers.

It’s about time, Danny Vendramini argues, that our view of the Neanderthals changed.

 A not uncommon view is of the Neanderthal as a peaceful, almost treehugging omnivores. Instead, Vendramini argues that the physiological evidence supports a different conclusion, that the Neanderthals were apex predators, and that their predation on early hominids triggered the speciation event that created modern humans. In doing so, he argues that those features of human anatomy and psychology which seem distinctively human are the result of a combination of predation and sexual selection, to distinguish us (in essence) from appearing too alike a Neanderthal, brought about by the fear and revulsion engendered by the Neanderthal species. In doing so, he accounts for the rise of art, of symbolic language, and of many other aspects of human civilisation which have resisted attempts at finding an evolutionary purpose.

 For the most part, I find the methods used, and the arguments and conclusions unproblematic. I am unable to say the same, regarding myself and teem theory. This is largely due to my lack of understanding of the mechanisms proposed, and it seems to me that it is less complicated to posit that since human personality seems genetically based, an easier argument is that our instinctive
 reactions are personality traits that proved to be beneficial for the individuals’ chances of survival until they could reproduce.

 In any case, Vendramini gives a significant hypothesis that is well buttressed with evidence, much of it drawn from the existing literature. It is a sound argument, well argued, and it should be more widely known and considered. They also display a clear idea of the processes of evolutionary mechanisms, and, in explaining those aspects of ourselves that are unique, Vendramini demonstrates that, in being
 clearly shaped by evolutionary forces, we are as much animals as the other species on earth.

 I used to believe in God, and towards the end fell back on believing in a “God of the gaps.” As science as progressed, those gaps have grown smaller and finer; with Them + Us, Danny Vendramini has closed a great deal more.

 Them + Us is available from Kardoorair Press
 <http://www.kardoorair.com.au/Science.html>, the book’s website
 <http://www.themandus.org/index.html> and all good bookshops.


“I’ve just finished reading your book and was very impressed. I would like to see a TV documentary based on your book… Well done for publishing such a highly provocative and controversial book.”

Dr. Lance Storm, School of Psychology, University of Adelaide


“Now it all makes sense…so simple, so neat, so obvious – one of those things that I wish I’d thought of! Now, you religious nutters, what was that you were saying about satan and his demons…?”

nopoetlaureate, reader review

“Okay! I will get my minor grumble out of the way first. I don’t think the book’s extensive bibliography is necessary – nor appropriate for book that is aimed at the popular science market. Publishers frown on too many citations as they make the book too academic and ‘high brow.’ If this puts readers off this book it would be a pity .

Now to the positive. I thought Them and Us exceptionally well crafted, mercifully free of jargon and written like a detective story that sweeps you along on an exhilarating ride – to all sorts of exotic new intellectual locales. Part of his racy style is to dress up his chapter titles with journalistic flourishes, like “The lean mean killing machine”, “When mutants roamed the earth” and “Getting the psychopaths off the streets.” These titles give the flavour of his very readable style. As someone who relates strongly to visual information, I especially appreciated the copious illustrations. There is also a useful Glossary.

All this though is peripheral to Vendramini’s ideas which are the beating heart of this amazing book, and which elevate it to the very best science writing. His ideas and theories are a veritable scientific tour de force, reminiscent of Darwin, Mendel, Galileo and other radical scientific adventurers. He has applied his artistic imagination to speculate on an evolutionary scenario and then supported it with a great deal of archaeological and genetic evidence. Reading Them and Us reminded me of the first time I read The Origin of Species at university nearly twenty years ago, it has the same sense of inspired intellect, audacity and sheer brilliance.”

Graig Peters
Carlton VIC
Nov 2nd 2009

“Danny Vendramini offers us very feasible and thoroughly researched explanations for many aspects of the homo sapiens character, particularly our intelligence, our ferocity and our xenophobia, that have previously been inexplicable. He provides us with a new perspective on the murderous and paranoid aspects of human nature that can help to guide us in our efforts to live peacefully and happily on our lovely planet.”

Deborah Yates, New Zealand

 

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