When you ask many anthropologists today, what got them into anthropology in the first place, many of them will tell you this or that, but often enough it is that they came across the now famous book, fondly known as “The Lucy Book” by Dr. Don Johnson, published in the 80’s. This book details the astounding discovery of the A. afarensis partial skeleton, the most complete of its time, detailing the anatomy, the adventure, and the science. So many people fell inn love with this book, that it drove them into the field themselves! People like Dr. Lee Berger, and many others owe their careers to the collective work of the past, and in thanks to mentors and people like Don Johnson.
Today, while “the Lucy book”, for those who are interested is still a great place to start, it is a little out dated. There is, however in my opinion, a book that has just come out that may take the crown for the most influential anthropology book for the next few decades. A book that covers not just one find, but all of anthropology, from the far reaches, to the dear and near. A book that takes a close look at individuals doing the work themselves, and making the world a better place. We get to see, as if we were there through the astonishing writing ability of author Evan Hadingham.
In “Discovering Us” by Evan Hardingham, in conjunction with The Leakey Foundation, we are taken on a journey of the last fifty years, through fifty miraculous discoveries from people all over the world. We hear astonishing stories, and see the finds themselves through the elaborately formatted and incredibly well photograph filled book.
We follow along with fifty of some of the greatest stories in paleoanthropology on the path to discovering just who we are, and how we came to be here. Not only does the reader get a grand understanding of what it means to be human, but also the journey it took us to get here. Through expeditions and extravagant fossil finds, including Lucy, we are able to see the whole picture of what the science is today. I truly cannot say enough good things about this book, and little to nothing bad at all.
If you want to support, and be involved with the current scientific work that is going on, this is a great way to find out about who is doing what, where they are in their careers as of the writing of this book (which was published in late 2021) and support them how you can, and see fit. While this book was not written to drive attention to The Leakey Foundation, it is abundantly true that this book would not have happened without them. As Mr. Hardingham tells us in our interview at the book, which you can find at the bottom of this page, The Leakey Foundation’s team is very small, and it was a great collaborative effort to get all of this done.
While this book is on the more pricey end of books, it is more than worth the read, especially if you can find it in a local library or other such place. This book, is going to inspire the next few generations of anthropologists, I have no doubt about it. As someone who is so utterly 100% dedicated to the field, and have been told by many they have not seen others with such passion for this field, I can tell you, the people in this book share that passion; and it screams off the page at you.