First Peoples in a New World Second Edition Populating Ice Age America by David J Meltzer

Told in a manner readable to non-scientists, it’s the saga of the First Americans. It’s what we know about those hardy souls who crossed the Bering Strait from Asia to North America more than ten-thousand years ago. Their journey, with a significance for posterity unrecognizable to them, was made possible by the northern glaciers locking up enough water so the sea levels dropped and a six-hundred mile-wide landmass stretched from northeast Asia to northwest America. This was Beringia and with the game animals getting out there, the hunters went too.

North America, when they got here, was mostly covered in ice and was awash in megafauna. Animals similar to what we have today only bigger, way bigger. Cats and wolves, even camels, and the best remembered today, the wooly mammoth. This wasn’t sixty million years ago, as it was with the dinosaurs. This was a time close enough to our own so Tom Jefferson thought (hoped) there might still be a few mammoths around in his time.

My favorite is ol’ Buffalo Antiquus. Two thousand pounds heavier than today’s buffalo and two feet taller at the hump, we can only marvel at those brave souls who hunted them with stone points fastened onto the ends of sticks.

The other side of the story are the men and women who, today, apply science and deduction to interpret from the scant materials dug up or washed out of the ground, the story of our first Americans.