Review of Nancy Howell’s Life Histories of the Dobe !Kung: Food, Fatness, and Well-Being over the Life-Span (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010)
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This well-written book describes reanalyses of existing anthropometric and behavioral data on the !Kung of northern Botswana, the same data that previously underpinned Howell’s (1979) classic and much admired volume, The Demography of the Dobe !Kung (New York: Academic Press). Since that book was published, increasing interest has been directed to analyzing the life history profiles of various foraging populations. Howell has used this publication both to contribute to this active area of research and to make her raw data more widely available to potential users, especially to students. On both counts, this very generous book is an elegant guide that shows how seemingly simple anthropometric and dietary data can be used to tease out answers to fundamental questions in human ecology and life history.
Howell’s particular interest is in understanding how the nutritional status of the Dobe !Kung population correlates with energy capture from the environment and, in particular, who funds...