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Book Review -In Search of Ice Age Americans by Dr. Kenneth Tankersley

In Search of Ice Age Americans by Dr. Kenneth Tankersley with a Forward by Douglas Preston. Gibbs Smith, Publisher 2002. 255 pp. 32 pages of color photos; many more in black and white.

Have you ever read a book on American archaeology cover to cover? Sound unlikely? Well, I have: Ken Tankersley's new book "In Search of Ice Age Americans". This book is beautifully written in a smooth, easy style that kept me turning the pages without even noticing. Part science, part history, part art, part memoir, you'll find yourself wishing you could tag along to watch the adventures unfold first hand.

Stop by a bookstore and see for yourself. The thick, rich pages and glossy high-quality photos will cause you to linger over the artistry of Clovis points, and wonder about those who crafted them. I dare you to scan Doug Preston's Forward, then just try put the book down. You'll want to know more about 'the teenagers, cowboys, and farmers' who made America's most important archaeological discoveries.

Dr. Tankersley steps back to take a clear look at the early finds and identifies those who really found them. He slips nimbly through scientific concepts that usually cause a reader's eyes to droop. His few paragraphs on C14 and AMS dating would clear up any ninth grader's confusion. Then Ken presents the spectrum of views and current evidence of how the earliest people might have come to the continent, without the need to endorse a single view.

His final chapter on the Clovis and Beyond Conference, held in Santa Fe, New Mexico in October 1999, reminds those of us who were there what an extraordinary event it was. His knack for noting context extends well beyond the artifact in the dirt.

The book closes with a quote by Ray Bradbury. In part it reads, "... They were coming with small dreams or big dreams or none at all. The first men were few, but the numbers grew steadily. There was comfort in numbers. But the first Lonely Ones had to stand alone..." The Ice Age Americans were people we'd like to know more about. Dr. Tankersley's book gives us a fresh perspective.

Comments? We'd like to hear your views about this book.

Cleone Hawkinson

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