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Extended Audio Sample The Old Way: A Story of the First People, by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (126 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Elizabeth Marshall Thomas Narrator: Elizabeth Marshall Thomas Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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One of our most influential anthropologists re-evaluates her long and illustrious career by returning to her roots—and the roots of life as we know it.

When Elizabeth Marshall Thomas first arrived in Africa to live among the Kalahari San, or bushmen, it was 1950, she was nineteen years old, and these last surviving hunter-gatherers were living as humans had lived for 15,000 centuries. Thomas wound up writing about their world in a seminal work, The Harmless People (1959). It has never gone out of print.

Back then this was uncharted territory and little was known about our human origins. Today our beginnings are better understood. And after a lifetime of interest in the bushmen, Thomas has come to see that their lifestyle reveals great, hidden truths about human evolution.

As she displayed in her bestseller, The Hidden Life of Dogs, Thomas has a rare gift for giving voice to the voices we don’t usually listen to, and helps us see the path that we have taken in our human journey. In The Old Way, she shows how the skills and customs of the hunter-gatherer share much in common with the survival tactics of our animal predecessors. And since it is “knowledge, not objects, that endure” over time, Thomas vividly brings us to see how linked we are to our origins in the animal kingdom. The Old Way is a rare and remarkable achievement, sure to stir up controversy, and worthy of celebration.

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Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Em Chitty | 12/29/2013

    " Fascinating view of what "man" was like before living in cities--drawn from experiences of living among the Kalahari desert people. Has some interesting reflections on the purposes of altruism anthropologically--and other stuff. A good read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Petra X | 11/10/2013

    " 'The Old Way' describes a hunter-gatherer's life from the most ancient of times until the very recent past. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Jae | 1/25/2013

    " Very interesting book. Thomas compellingly describes the connection between these people and the land, weather, predators and prey, and each other, but she does so without a lot of sentiment. She doesn't mourn the loss of this way of life, and celebrates it in a very objective manner. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Sarah | 4/21/2012

    " A really fascinating account of the life of the Ju/wasi and the story of how the Marshall family studied them, starting in the 1950s, when they still lived as hunter/gatherers. "

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About the Author

Elizabeth Marshall Thomas is the author of seven books, nonfiction and fiction—among them The Hidden Life of Dogs, The Harmless People, and Reindeer Moon. She’s written for The New Yorker, National Geographic, and The Atlantic, and lives in New Hampshire.