We, Hominids: An Anthropological Detective Story

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A roving philosophical journey into what makes us human

In this charming, thought-provoking book, one of Holland’s greatest non-fiction writers hunts down answers to humanity’s most fundamental questions: Who are we? What makes us different from animals? With an ancient skull as his starting point, he travels the globe, tracing the search for the first human being: the missing link between humans and apes.

Westerman introduces us to the world of skull hunters – leading experts in our fossil ancestry – whose lives are just as fascinating as those of their primeval discoveries. He astutely reconsiders the work of illustrious paleoanthropologists in the light of new DNA technology, postcolonialism, and the rise of women in this male-dominated field.

Westerman discovers a plethora of origin hypotheses and shows how any theory of who we are and where we come from is coloured by the zeitgeist.

We, Hominids is a compelling mixture of reportage, travelogue and essay – reminiscent of Bruce Chatwin or Ryszard Kapuściński – written by a brilliant storyteller and thinker.

Frank Westerman is a highly acclaimed Dutch non-fiction writer. His work has been translated into sixteen languages and has received numerous accolades, including the Kapuściński Prize (Poland), the Premio Terzani (Italy) and the Prix du Livre du Réel (France).

Sam Garrett is an award-winning translator of over fifty novels and works of non-fiction. He is the only translator to have twice won the British Society of Authors’ Vondel Prize for Dutch–English translation.

‘Gripping and brilliantly told, We, Hominids deftly blends personal experience with a journalist’s eye for a remarkable story.’ – Mark McKenna, professor of history at the University of Sydney, and author of Return to Uluru

‘Part travelogue, part science, Frank Westerman unearths a brilliantly original story that has been millions of years in the making: what does it mean to be human? Quite wonderful.’ – Chris Turney, professor of earth science and climate change at the University of New South Wales, and author of Shackled and Bones, Rocks and Stars

‘A masterclass in storytelling, exploring who we are and where we came from.’ – Danielle Clode, award-winning author of The Wasp and the Orchid and In Search of the Woman who Sailed the World

‘This is Sapiens behind the scenes: exciting, shocking and real.’ — Dr José Joordens, Naturalis Dubois Chair in Hominin Paleoecology and Evolution, Maastricht University