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In 1955 on a visit to South Africa, Robert Ardrey became aware of the growing evidence that man had evolved on the African continent from carnivorous, predatory stock, who had also, long before man, achieved the use of weapons. A 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 1955 to 1961, 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. Eventually, his investigation expanded to include nationalism and patriotism, private property and social order, hierarchy and status-seeking, even conscience. All revealed roots in our most ancient animal beginnings and parallels in primate societies.
African Genesis is at once the story of an unprecedented personal search and a story of man that had never before been told. It is a shocking book in that it challenges assumptions of human uniqueness that color every segment of modern thought and every aspect of our daily life.
While evolutionary science has advanced markedly since Ardrey’s times, his insights on human behavior have a timeless quality and African Genesis remains a classic reference for anyone exploring life’s biggest questions.