Ancestral Passions by Virginia Morell
The Leakey Family and the Quest for Humankind's Beginnings

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This biography of the "First Family" of anthropology reveals how their discoveries, collaborations, and rivalries contributed to our own knowledge of the origins of humankind.

In this fascinating and authoritative work, acclaimed science writer Virginia Morell brings to vivid life the famous and infamous Leakey family, pioneers in the field of paleoanthropology: Louis Leakey, the patriarch, who persisted through initial scientific failures and scandal-ridden divorce to achieve spectacular success in digs throughout East Africa; Mary, his second wife, who worked alongside Louis as they made their outstanding discoveries at Olduvai Gorge and elsewhere; and Richard, their son, who ascended to the top of the field in his parents’ wake, only to be threatened with both near-fatal illness and fierce professional rivalry. Morell transports us into the world of these compelling personalities, demonstrating how a small clan of highly talented and fiercely competitive people came to dominate an entire field of science and to contribute immeasurably to our understanding of the origins of humanity.

About Virginia Morell

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Virginia Morell is a prolific contributor to National Geographic, Science, and Smithsonian, among other publications. She is also the author of Ancestral Passions, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year; Blue Nile; and coauthor with Richard Leakey of Wildlife Wars.
Published January 11, 2011 by Touchstone. 640 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Science & Math, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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Morell employs letters, journals, interviews, and articles to provide a nearly blow-by-blow, you- were-there reportage of the Leakeys' life in Africa: their perpetual penury, their intramural clashes of personality, their extramural duelings with the larger archaeological community.

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Publishers Weekly

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Born in Kenya, Louis Leakey (1903- 1972), son of a dynamic missionary, grew up among Kikuyu natives.

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