For decades the issue seemed moot. The first settlers, we were told, were big-game hunters who arrived from Asia at the end of the Ice Age some 12,000 years ago, crossing a land bridge at the Bering Strait and migrating south through an ice-free passage between two great glaciers blanketing the continent. But after years of sifting through data from diverse and surprising sources, the maverick scientists whose stories Lost World follows have found evidence to overthrow the "big-game hunter" scenario and reach a new and startling and controversial conclusion: The first people to arrive in North America did not come overland -- they came along the coast by water.
In this groundbreaking book, award-winning journalist Tom Koppel details these provocative discoveries as he accompanies the archaeologists, geologists, biologists, and paleontologists on their intensive search. Lost World takes readers under the sea, into caves, and out to the remote offshore islands of Alaska, British Columbia, and California to present detailed and growing evidence for ancient coastal migration. By accompanying the key scientists on their intensive investigations, Koppel brings to life the quest for that Holy Grail of New World prehistory: the first peopling of the Americas.
How and when did humans first come to North America? In attempting to answer this fascinating question, journalist Koppel, who has won awards from the Canadian Archaeological Association, takes a three-pronged approach; in doing so, he spreads himself too thin. The first prong is an attempt to demonstrate that humans came to America at least a couple of thousand years earlier than is commonly accepted. Additionally, he asserts that, rather than migrating overland and across the frozen Bering Strait, as is generally believed, the first Americans were seafarers who migrated up the coast of Siberia and then down the coast of the Americas. Although much of Koppel's material is interesting, the presentation is rather one-sided; the perspective of critics of this theory is almost totally absent. Koppel's second prong is to focus on some maverick scientists proffering this theory and how they work. Since many of the archeological sites likely to shed light on their hypotheses are underwater, the logistics of gathering data are quite complicated. Yet the detail offered by the author is extraneous, and he doesn't give enough insight into the principals. Koppel's third prong is even less successful. He inserts himself into the narrative, attempting to create an adventure story of how he went about gathering information for the book. Unfortunately, there isn't enough adventure, and readers learn instead that Koppel had"Baron of Beef, au jus" for lunch one day while some of his fellow journalists were forced to eat cheese-and-sprout sandwiches. As with lunch, Koppel doesn't provide enough meat to make this a satisfying read.