Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Cro-Magnon” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating


3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  544 ratings  ·  90 reviews
Cro-Magnons were the first fully modern Europeans-not only the creators of the stunning cave paintings at Lascaux and elsewhere, but the most adaptable and technologically inventive people that had yet lived on earth. The prolonged encounter between the Cro-Magnons and the archaic Neanderthals and between 45,000 and 30,000 years ago was one of the defining moments of histo ...more
ebook, 280 pages
Published June 1st 2010 by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (first published 2010)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Cro-Magnon, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Cro-Magnon

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,294)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Jason Koivu
A heavy-browed, hirsute hunter crouches among the undergrowth frozen still...


…silently observing an encampment of creatures much like himself…


…yet decidedly different in their features, the very shape of their heads, their more intricate tools, sharper and finer weaponry, their almost tailored clothing, the utterly foreign sounds they speak, so different are they in fact that the hunter does not recognize them as kindred beings.

He is Neanderthal, a dying race that survived mostly unchanged for
L Timmel
This is an embarrassingly bad book. The last sentence of the book sums up the whole sorry mess: "My [white European] DNA tells me I'm one of them, and I'm proud of it." The book is laden with the author's romantic adolescent male fantasies about what it was like being a cro-magnon man-- emphasis on "man." His typical fantasy involves a young man shooting birds with arrows while his "sister" (Fagan's choice of word) retrieves them. Another: "The man paddling in the bow, his wife in the stern..." ...more
I didn't think this one was as good as his one on climate change in history (the only other book of his I've read). It concentrated almost entirely on hunting, which is understandable since that's pretty much the evidence left behind, but got a little boring. And there were made up scenes which were so conjectured I didn't think that they added much, and just served as filler to make the book long.

Most annoyingly, he ascribes rather modern traditions and gender roles without any sort of discuss
While innovation in anthropology and archaeology come as slowly as the creeping glaciers from which core samples are taken, Fagan's latest offers little in the way of new information or radical theory, instead hewing to the status quo with great zealotry. It is written for the layperson on a very simplistic level, and he shows signs of age by engaging in a great deal of repetition and redundancy throughout the text (it could easily have been edited to half the length). Sadly, Fagan's zealotry em ...more
This is a very good overview of current knowledge about the Stone Age peoples of Europe and their origins, both Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal. Fagan punctuates the book with vignettes of imagined "daily life" from different times and places, then goes on to explain what is known, how it is known, what is probable, etc. - and thus, how he came up with the vignette. It is very readable. There is a certain repetitiveness, as Fagan returns to the same themes over and over again - and occasionally makes ...more
Ray Campbell
Disappointing. Carbon dating as first used was less accurate than today's methods. Cro Magnon man appears in Africa around 70,000 years ago and coexisted with Neanderthals until the end of the last great ice age when Cro Magnon pushed them out and into extinction. Cro Magnons hunted, gathered, sewed clothing out of animal skins and fur, and painted cave walls - it was fun! The really impressive thing is that this went on over tens of thousands of years. I had imagined this book might spread new ...more
Alex Telander
One of the most impressive things about history is that it is never static; you could take one event that is well documented, then come back to it a decade later and find the details and actions and reactions on that event to be totally different. One area where the knowledge and thoughts and ideas of what the period was like that is constantly changing is prehistory; our ancestors who lived before any real form of the written word was invented, other than cave paintings. This is approximately 1 ...more
Resistance is Futile
Cro-Magnon, by Brian Fagan introduces what is currently known (and speculated) about Cro-Magnons and Neanderthals. Fagan spices up his narrative with imaginative vignettes of Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons as they may have lived. I imagine such vignettes would appeal to most everyone in the general public, including teens, though they may be a little irritating to a hard-core scientist who isn't interested in imaginative speculation (just a guess...I loved them!). Another excellent feature of this ...more
A very good book that evokes and explains the environment that created early modern humans, focusing especially on Europe. He covers the Neanderthals early in the book and uses them to make comparisons throughout. The book drew me in with a clever use of small vignettes depicting the probable lives of particular people in the prehistoric world. In all cases he explains why scientists think the interpretation he is giving is correct. Where there is disagreement in scientific circles he deals with ...more
Fagan takes the scientific evidence of the migration of Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon humans from Africa into Europe and their endurance through the ice age and then paints vivid imaginative scenes of their hunts, tool making, art and ceremonies. For him, the Cro-Magnon relationship with the supernatural, as evidenced by their art, was also evidence of their imagination. And he credits them, the direct ancestors of modern humans, with an imagination that led to innovations, making them better able ...more
Paul R. Fleischman
Review by Paul R. Fleischman
This book provided me an opportunity to wonder about the origin of the human condition, embedded for approximately 37,000 years in Ice Age Europe. Brian Fagan’s writing is clear and easy to follow, and the author’s authority, as a long time Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, shines through. The best thing about this book is the author’s effort to stick to the anthropological and archeological data, while also allowing himself t
Todd Martin
Lascaux Painting
The term “Cro-Magnon” is used to describe the first anatomically modern humans who lived in Europe (contemporaneously with Neandertals) as far back as 43,000 years ago. They are perhaps best known for their cave paintings, such as those found in a cave in Lascaux, France, but archeologists have uncovered quite a few details about their physiology, environment, lifestyle and culture from sites around Europe.

Why were Cro-Magnon people important? Quite simply, they represented a quantum evolutiona
Joe White
review Notes: Cro-Magnon Brian Fagan
.mobi version

My rating 3stars.

The material in this book should easily get a 4 or 5 star rating for content and appropriate conclusions from source material resources.

However, I felt that the bulk of the text would greatly benefit from a refactored parsing in order to remove so many redundant expressions throughout the book.

Example form page 269 of 351 in the .mobi version: “OVER THOUSANDS OF years, the routine of Cro-Magnon life remained unchanged fro
The story listens as if it is a romantic fiction novel. The author gives us plenty of information on early man (and neanderthal) life. If you were to listen to the story at random parts, you would probably think the story was a romantic fiction novel. Whenever a science book reads like fiction that makes the book flow marvelously. The author will often start his elucidation on a subject matter by saying "and how do we know that", and then explains how we think we know what was said. Typical exam ...more
Jack Rourk
Fagan tries in this book to provide a general glimpse for the lay person of what life possibly may have been like in the Upper Pleistocene of EEMH (Early European Modern Humans) or Cro-Magnon's 12,000 to 40,000 years ago. Spanning such a remote time period is difficult, not to mention this is a very contentious field with many opinions and it is difficult to please everyone. It is just to broad of a subject to condense in one thin book.

30,000 years is an awfully long period of time to try to cr
A nicely written overview of Cro-Magnon culture from the earliest encounters with the Neanderthals up through the end of the ice-age and eventual usurpation of the hunter-gatherer societies by agriculture. Cro-Magnons were a stone-age, non-literate people who inhabited Europe about 35,000 years ago until roughly 12,000 years ago. The only archaeological remains are their tools, cave art, and a few scattered burial sites that contain some clothing. The author fills in the blanks about what life w ...more
I always sit up and take notice when a non-fiction book is enjoyable and a pleasure to read; having to read through so many of them as part of what I do, finding those rare few that are enjoyable reads into the bargain are something of a treat. I expected Brian Fagan's work to be authoritative - his name has been mentioned many times in the academic circles I move in as an established, solid professional - but the delight of the read was something unexpected; a real bonus. Cro-Magnon is a smooth ...more
Brian Fagan has written s slew of books on similar subjects (largely historical and archaeological) subjects and if they're all like Cro-Magnon I'm going to have to go back and read some of them. The book begins with a fairly brief but comprehensive picture of the Neandertal and their migration to and occupation of what is now southern Europe. It then moves on to the Cro-Magnon (modern humans) migration to Europe around 45,000 years ago and follows them until about 5000 BCE. The book is scholarl ...more
Fagan is extremely knowledgeable and has written extensively on archaeology, world prehistory, the last Ice Age, climate change, and global warming. In this book, he focuses on our heritage and history as Homo sapiens, what is known and supposed about both Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons. There is lots of information about daily life, the standard toolkits of these peoples, and their hunting practices. as well as much info (and some fine color plates) about the cave art, particularly in France and ...more
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Brian Fagan's latest work. I don't have formal training in paleontology, but I do enjoy reading a broad range of popular work on science and Cro-Magnon fills an area I've often been curious about but have never had the opportunity to delve deeper. Though out the book, Dr. Fagan's enthusiasm and objective analysis held my fascination as he uses the latest research and informed speculation to paint the most current view science can offer of these early humans. The book ...more
Christopher H.
I love history, and this was a grand tour of over nearly 200,000 years of human history from the small bands of anatomically modern humans that roamed about Africa and then slowly spread across Eurasia and finally into the heart of western Europe. Professor Fagan is a great writer that brings to life these hardy peoples that most of us are descended from. Fagan carefully explains and puts into context all of the latest archaeological and climatological data as he tells this amazing story. There' ...more
Joel Trout
I found the material in this book fascinating despite the author's limitations.

I am new to this subject, so I say with all humility that the most frustrating part for me was Fagan's repetitive obsession that Neanderthals did not have speech or language. He points out that Neanderthals had the same FOXP2 gene (which contributes to speech and language) that modern humans do, the same hypoglossal canal (which carries the nerves from the brain to the tongue), and the same thoracic vertebrae canal
Cooper Renner
Enjoyable book of "popular science" about the Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon. The Neanderthal are covered as earlier residents of Europe into which the Cro-Magnon (modern man--homo sapiens) moved and, arguably, as a point of contrast. The Neanderthal pretty much get the short end of the stick in Fagan's reconstruction of prehistoric Europe--not simply in dying out but also in being judged by Fagan as being less human, as it were, not as smart as Cro-Magnon, not as adaptable, etc. I'm curious as to w ...more
i am thrilled to have won this book through FirstReads!

i am very interested in the overall topic of the Ice Age and the appearance of the first humans with advanced cognitive abilities. the contents of this book are really interesting, but i had a really tough time getting through the first half of the book. a lot of the content could have been written in a more concise and organized fashion. for some people, this might be a good thing, kind of like listening to an old prof re-tell his/her knowl
This is a clearly written, popular science account of the history of Cro-Magnons, also more properly known as anatomically modern humans. Fagan starts with the origins of Cro-Magnons from Africa, to how Cro-Magnons may have interacted with the Neandertals (probably mostly consisting of silent trading of goods), to how their stone technology changed, to the demise of the hunter-gatherer lifestyle with the rise of agriculture, around 8000 years ago. Fagan constantly studs the narrative with fictio ...more
Brian Fagan is one of my favorite authors. I was first introduced to his books in college. They were the text books in the prehistory courses I took for my major in archeology. More recently, he has been writing about the effects of climate change on human history. He has a talent for writing about complex subjects like climate change so that they are comprehensible to the lay reader without “dumbing down” the material.

With his most recent book, he has returned to the subject of prehistory with
This was a truly fascinating account of the rise of early modern humans, here referred to as Cro-Magnons, and their various stages of cultural development as they corresponded to the changing world around them. The first several chapters deal extensively with the relationship between Cro-Magnon peoples and Neanderthals, comparing their history, biology, cultures, and archaeological remains, and discussing whether interactions between Europe's two species of humans might have occurred. This leads ...more
J.M. Hushour
The go-to guide for those curious about our hirsute, spear-hefting forebears. Starting with those wacky failures, the Neanderthals, the premature ejaculation of the human family tree, Fagan traces the movements out of Africa and northwest up into Europe. There's a lot early on about the hypothetical encounters between the Neanderthals and our "Bro-Mags", which are pretty nifty thought experiments. Much of the book is given over to organizing and analyzing for the lay reader the periods of Cro-Ma ...more
Mouldy Squid
A very interesting read. Fagan takes what would normally be a dry and tedious examnation of Early Modern Humans, their enivronment and culture and makes it a living, breathing history. Fagan brings the landscape of Europe of 100 000 to 15 000 years ago alive with anecdotes and vignettes of what life must have been like for our Cro-Magnon ancestors.

A wealth of detail about the habits, prey, tools and societies of Ice Age man does not overwhelm the essential narative Fagan presents. He traces the
Natascha Imlay
I enjoyed this science behind this book, and the descriptions of the archaeological discoveries. However this book was spoiled by the authors insistence on making up happy little stories about how people sat around the fires, and how they did stuff, men this, women the other, etc. These all seem to be based on his own opinions without much evidence. I think this dragged this book well away from popular science into the fiction category.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 43 44 next »
  • The Humans Who Went Extinct: Why Neanderthals Died Out and We Survived
  • Masters of the Planet
  • The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution
  • The Last Human: A Guide to Twenty-Two Species of Extinct Humans
  • Lone Survivors: How We Came to Be the Only Humans on Earth
  • After the Ice: A Global Human History 20,000-5000 BC
  • The First Human: The Race to Discover Our Earliest Ancestors
  • The Link: Uncovering Our Earliest Ancestor
  • Religion in Human Evolution: From the Paleolithic to the Axial Age
  • Mapping Human History: Genes, Race, and Our Common Origins
  • The Neandertal Enigma: Solving the Mystery of Human Origins
  • The Horse, the Wheel and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World
  • Evolution in Four Dimensions: Genetic, Epigenetic, Behavioral, and Symbolic Variation in the History of Life
  • Smithsonian Intimate Guide to Human Origins
  • The Mind in the Cave: Consciousness and the Origins of Art
  • Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human
  • Out of Eden: The Peopling of the World
  • Origins Reconsidered: In Search of What Makes Us Human
Brian Murray Fagan is an author of popular archaeology books and emeritus professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Prof. Fagan is an archaeological generalist, with expertise in the broad issues of human prehistory. He is the author or editor of 46 books, including seven widely used undergraduate college texts.

Additional information at Wikipedia.
More about Brian M. Fagan...
The Little Ice Age: How Climate Made History 1300-1850 The Long Summer: How Climate Changed Civilization The Great Warming: Climate Change and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations The Rape of the Nile: Tomb Robbers, Tourists, and Archaeologists in Egypt (Revised and Updated) Ancient North America

Share This Book

“at a seminal yet still little known moment in history, Homo sapiens developed the full battery of cognitive skills that we ourselves possess. After a surprisingly short time, perhaps a mere five thousand years, their descendants moved northward into Eurasia and Europe.” 0 likes
More quotes…