Close Encounters with Humankind

A Paleoanthropologist Investigates Our Evolving Species

Sang-Hee Lee (Author)

With Shin-Young Yoon

Overview | Formats

“Deftly weaving together science and personal observation, Lee proves an engaging, authoritative guide… of the human condition.” —Kate Wong, editor at Scientific American

What can fossilized teeth tell us about our ancient ancestors’ life expectancy? Did farming play a problematic role in the history of human evolution? And what do we have in common with Neanderthals? In this captivating bestseller, Close Encounters with Humankind, paleoanthropologist Sang-Hee Lee explores our greatest evolutionary questions from new and unexpected angles. Through a series of entertaining, bite-sized chapters that combine anthropological insight with cutting-edge science, we gain fresh perspectives into our first hominin ancestors and ways to challenge perceptions about the traditional progression of evolution. With Lee as our guide, we discover that we indeed have always been a species of continuous change.

Book Details

  • Paperback
  • March 2019
  • ISBN 978-0-393-35676-2
  • 5.5 × 8.3 in / 304 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide

Other Formats

  1. Book CoverClose Encounters with Humankind: A Paleoanthropologist Investigates Our Evolving Species


Endorsements & Reviews

“Lee, a paleoanthropologist, tells us much about our evolutionary origins by sorting through our ancestors’ mortal remains.” — New York Times Book Review

“Succinctly and engagingly, Lee revisits… key questions about the story of our evolving species—and gives some unconventional answers.” — Nature

“An exceptionally reader-friendly introduction to human evolution.… Highly accessible, consistently interesting popular science writing.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Sang-Hee Lee has posed some of the big questions in human evolution and has written brief, clear, and jargon-free essays about them. Her informal, clear style and commonsense explanations are delightful and engaging. Brava!” — Pat Shipman, professor of anthropology and author of The Invaders

“In this insightful collection, Sang-Hee Lee shows herself to be a gifted storyteller, breathing new life into the old bones, with both the intimate knowledge of a practitioner and a dose of cross-cultural scientific sensitivity. A pleasure to read!” — Jonathan Marks, professor of anthropology and author of Tales of the Ex-Apes

“I have struggled for years to find reading materials that cover the basics of human evolution without overwhelming students with dry, technical minutiae. At last, a book that does this! This book will appeal not only to students, but to anyone who is curious about the world.” — Dean Falk, coauthor of Geeks, Genes, and the Evolution of Asperger Syndrome

“A terrific introduction to the story of human evolution for someone who is just beginning to explore the field, but even those familiar with the material will find a lot of new information here. An appealing, factual, and entertaining book on the ever-fascinating topic of human evolutionary history.” — Wenda Trevathan, author of Ancient Bodies, Modern Lives

“Lee uses quick-take chapters and a congenial tone to give us an overview of what paleoanthropology has discovered and how it works.… Think of it as visiting some really old friends.” — Library Journal

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