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Dance of the Tiger: A Novel of the Ice Age
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Dance of the Tiger: A Novel of the Ice Age

3.66  ·  Rating Details ·  264 Ratings  ·  30 Reviews
Björn Kurtén's compelling novel gives the reader a detailed picture of life 35,000 years ago in Western Europe. One of the world's leading scholars of Ice Age fauna, Kurtén fuses extraordinary knowledge and imagination in this vivid evocation of our deepest past. This novel illuminates the lives of the humans who left us magnificent paintings in the caves of France and Spa ...more
Paperback, 280 pages
Published October 10th 1995 by University of California Press (first published 1978)
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Nov 19, 2008 Eric_W rated it really liked it
5/8/10 Update: Some recent evidence found in Europe and genome studies bears on the speculative outcome of this story. See

The image of the hunched-over, beetle-browed, dark-skinned, stupid-looking, primitive Neanderthal is familiar to us all. Stephen Jay Gould, in his introduction to Bjorn Kurten's Dance of the Tiger, suggests this effigy is essentially false. The bent posture stemmed from one of the original skeletal remains which was later discovered t
Sep 23, 2013 Don rated it liked it
After having read Clan of the Cave Bear so many times, I was hoping that there were more novels that took place over the same period. I had heard of this book and thought I would take a shot at it. While Dance of the Tiger was a good book, it was nowhere near the epic scale that was presented in Clan of the Cave Bear. The story does have a bit of dated feel to it, which does not necessarily mean it was bd by any means of the imagination. What it does say is that it feels written for an older tim ...more
Dec 16, 2012 Loraine rated it really liked it
I'll bet Kurten's Dance of the Tiger was source material for Jean Auel. While his novel doesn't have the pizazz of Auel's Clan of the Cave Bear, his is a far better scientific account of those times. If you're into palaeo-anthropological fiction, and you want to learn as much as one novel can tell you about the flora and fauna, the geographical features of what is now Scandinavia, clan culture of different tribes in the Pleistocene, then this is the book. While telling his tale, Kurten is also e ...more
Rowland Bismark
Aug 18, 2010 Rowland Bismark rated it liked it
I have previously read two novels about contact between Cro-Magnon and Neandertal man: Jean Auel's Clan of the Cave Bear and William Golding's The Inheritors. Björn Kurtén's Dance of the Tiger may not be as well known (I stumbled over it by chance in a publisher's catalogue), but it deserves to be. If it lacks the psychological depth of Golding's novel, it is just as engaging, and it is far more tautly written than Auel's potboiler. From the opening mammoth hunt the excitement is maintained almo ...more
Dec 12, 2009 Myke rated it really liked it
A novel about the meetings and interactions of paleo-lithic tribes, including two different species of hominids.

I want to call this book science fiction, or maybe reverse science fiction. Good Sci-Fi is not really about imagining new technologies, but rather examining how new technologies might influence human life and culture. This is the inverse concept. Taking extremely limited technologies and imagining how human life and culture would have developed around it. It was a fun read for me.

I ap
Nancy Buscher
I was very disappointed with this book. I guess I was expecting another Jean Auel. The author may have been a wonderful paleontologist, but he's not much of a storyteller. The names and dialogue in this tale of Ice Age people 35,000 years ago were right out of the 20th century. Example: "Now, Miss Squirrel married a man, and he was one of those who disliked me. Nor did she like him--" Really? The Neandertal people were fading into history as the Cro-Magnon people were coming in. Stephen Gould mu ...more
Dec 24, 2016 Alien rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: quit-reading, non-sf
A "historic" novel. The author obviously loved to write this. I can imagine, that a professional paleonthologist has a lot of fun finally bringing out all the speculations that he has about the people from the past. How their dreams were, how similar they were to us modern folk, etc.
Unfortunately I did not have nearly as much fun reading this book. It is not bad. But somehow I just did not have enough fun to read it to the end.
The main point of the novel is of course the confrontation between t
Kirja kertoo neandertalin ihmisten ja nykyihmisten varhaismuodon Cro-Magnonin ihmisten kohtaamisesta ja elosta toistensa kanssa - ihmisryhmien välisiltä konflikteiltakaan ei vältytä. Kirjailija paleontologi esittelee tarinassaan erään teorian neandertalilaisten häviämisestä maailmankartalta. Kertomus on kuitenkin fiktiivinen ja kirjassa alkuihmiset ovat hyvin paljon nykyihmisten kaltaisia niin tunne-elämältään kuin myös tavoiltaan. Kirja on jaoteltu kolmeen eri henkilöiden näkökulmasta kerrottuu ...more
Nov 13, 2013 Matt rated it really liked it
Shelves: recently-read
Fascinating fictional story, written by a prominent European paleontologist, about humanity's interaction with our closest not-quite-human cousins, the Neanderthals, Though written in a simple, almost fable-like, fashion it presents the idea that our relationship with them was complicated. Friendship and romance existed but so did hatred and violence. There's also an interesting hypothesis as to how the Neanderthal went extinct, though recent discoveries seem to have proven that false. Most of a ...more
Feb 14, 2008 Sara rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best fictional treatments of Neanderthals and early Homo sapiens that I know of. Kurten was a well-respected palaeontologist, and his breadth of knowledge shows in this book. The story, however, is so well & sensitively told (even in translation) that the science "goes down" fairly painlessly. I have had my physical anthropology students read this & I know others who've assigned this to beginning anthropology students; nearly all of them like it and get quite a bit fro ...more
Apr 29, 2012 Colleen rated it it was amazing
I first read this book as a requirement in my intro to biological anthropology class, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Now that I occasionally teach bio anth, I also use it in my class, asking my students to do a review of it.

The novel portrays a couple of different possibilities for the interactions between early homo sapiens and neandertals. It's descriptions of pleistocene flora and fauna are truly excellent, the characters are memorable and there's enough of a mystery-type story to keep wanting
Jan 22, 2010 Sara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bjorn Kurten was a well-respected Finnish palaeontologist and this novel is a beautifully written & scientifically plausible rendering of archaic human times. He depicts the possible/probable interactions between the so-called Neanderthals and early modern Homo sapiens. This one book is a far, far better introduction to the science, theory & data of human evolution than all of the saggy, baggy volumes of Jean Auel's put together.
Apr 20, 2013 Alessandra rated it it was amazing
What would have happened if Neanderthals and Sapiens met? How would they interact with each other? These are the kind of question that fascinated me studying Anthropology. Even thought we do not have (now) sure proofs that Neanderthals showed some sort of symbolic behaviour, it is still very interesting imaging what they would think, how they would see the world, and how they would relate to their closest cousin, the sapiens.
Raymond Walker
An excellent book detailing the possible reasons for the ectinction(if there was indeed was one) of neanerthal man. This i loved; the historian did not focus particularly on his ideas but left it open for history or the students of such to decide. I wish i had studied under this man. Highly recommended
Deborah Pickstone
This was the absolute star of my weekend's reading! What a charming story; it reads allegorically, both intentionally and unintentionally on the part of the author, I think. I learned a lot about prehistory and anthropology and was introduced to a lot of delightful characters who I would love to think are our forebears.

Straight onto my Top 50 shelf!
Apr 04, 2012 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book when I was a kid and absolutely loved it. It was on my teen-years annual re-read list. Haven't seen my old copy in years, but would be interested to see if it still holds up to what I remember.
Kirsten Turner
Sep 11, 2014 Kirsten Turner rated it really liked it
Interesting theory about our species and how it came to dominate. By now probably discounted, given the decades since this was written (1978).
Jun 05, 2013 Beverly rated it liked it
Interesting story that also lays out the idea the author (an evolutionary paleontologist) has of how Neandertal became extinct.
Oct 29, 2015 Patricia rated it really liked it
Great book. Really love reading books about what it may have been like when neandertals and homo sapiens lived. A very good story.
Chris Passingham
May 05, 2014 Chris Passingham rated it really liked it
A good book and I gave it a four star rating rather than a three because it debunked so many of my preconceptions about the Paleolithic age
Erik Graff
Dec 20, 2009 Erik Graff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Kurtén fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: literature
Unusually well-informed novel about Neanderthal and Cromagnon coexistence and conflict 35,000 years ago by an expert in the field.
Right. I'm less than halfway through this and it's really not doing anything for me. The premise is good, and the science is solid, but the story is ... boring.
Alessandro Silenzi
Jun 15, 2011 Deborah rated it really liked it
A very plausible story, which also, incidentally, turned around my unthought-out images of early modern humans and Neandertals.
Jun 02, 2012 Lowell rated it it was amazing
A historical fiction that gives a great insight into the prehistorica people living in Europe.
Nov 24, 2008 Aaron rated it really liked it
Recommended to Aaron by: Sue
Very enjoyable book. And I remembered bits of it from my childhood, when my father read it to me.
Feb 25, 2012 Sarahandus rated it did not like it
Shelves: junk
With newer evidence, this book is more fantasy than anything else.
Jean Auel does it much better. (And I didn't like her take on it either.)
Aug 04, 2015 Seatha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Me ha gustado mucho la historia y el encuentro y choque de las dos especies humanas. Pero la introducción me ha parecido demasiado larga.
Jason Edmonds
Jason Edmonds rated it it was ok
Mar 23, 2009
April Ann
April Ann rated it really liked it
Apr 22, 2009
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  • The Inheritors
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  • The Humans Who Went Extinct: Why Neanderthals Died Out and We Survived
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Björn Olof Lennartson Kurtén (1924–1988) was a distinguished vertebrate paleontologist. He belonged to the Swedish-speaking minority in Finland. He was a professor in paleontology at the University of Helsinki from 1972 up to his death in 1988. He also spent a year as lecturing guest professor at Harvard University in 1971.
In Not from the Apes (1971) Kurtén argued that man's development has been s
More about Björn Kurtén...

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