DNF - After the Ice by Steven Mithen

After the Ice: A Global Human History 20,000-5000 BC - Steven Mithen

I picked up this book in the hopes of learning about what mischief humans got up to on all the continents after the ice age (20 000 BC) until the event of civilization (5000 BC) via archaeological, genetic and linguistic evidence.  Well, this book just didn't do it for me.  I read approximately half the book and had to stop.  Instead of a science/history book, the author wrote an annoying historical fiction novel with the odd bit of archaeological findings thrown in.  

The author has a habit of describing what he thinks life might be like at various places at various points in history, but he isn't always clear to differentiate between the information based on archaeological evidence and what is essentially the author's speculation.  In addition, the presence of an extremely annoying, silly and distracting fictional, time-travelling anthropologist ghost gimmick acting as eye-witness is included everywhere.  This fictional character was amusing int he first two chapters, but after that I kept hoping some neolithic shaman would exorcise him.

This annoying fictional character wonders around the prehistoric world in no particular order, other than dealing with each continent at a time.  This random wondering in time and space makes for jumbled and confusing reading, especially since no additional timeline diagram was provided.  In addition, many of the sites discussed in the book have similar findings and everything eventually blurres into one big smudge.  Pictures or diagrams would have been useful to differentiate these sites from one another.

In between the historical fiction accounts are jumbled-up, brief and rather vague archeological descriptions of selected sites, but genetic and linguistic evidence is mostly ignored, or currently outdated (the book was published in 2004).  

What facts I managed to pick out of what I read of this book were interesting, but the writing style was confusing, messy and after a while, rather boring.  I just couldn't keep my interest in this book going any further and decided to find something else to read.