Stony Brook Matters

Meave Leakey’s Memoir Explores Her Own Past and Mankind’s

Meave leakey

Sediments of timeMeave Leakey has been on the front lines of evolutionary research for the better part of five decades, and she delves into that past in her new memoir, The Sediments of Time: My Lifelong Search for the Past.

Published by HMH Books, and co-written with Leakey’s youngest daughter, Samira, the book was hailed as “extraordinary” by The New York Times: “This inspirational autobiography stands among the finest scientist memoirs.”

Leakey is a research professor in the Stony Brook University Department of Anthropology and is co-director of field research at the Turkana Basin Institute (TBI), and is part of a world-renowned family of paleoanthropologists that includes husband Richard Leakey and his parents, Louis and Mary Leakey. Richard, chair of TBI, was recently inducted as an Honorary Fellow into the African Academy of Sciences.

The memoir tells the exciting tale of Meave Leakey’s quest for our human origins and the challenges she has faced as a woman in a highly competitive, male-dominated field.

From the publisher:

“Meave’s own personal story is replete with drama, from thrilling discoveries on the shores of Lake Turkana to run-ins with armed herders and every manner of wildlife, to raising her children and supporting her renowned paleoanthropologist husband Richard Leakey’s ambitions amidst social and political strife in Kenya. When Richard needs a kidney, Meave provides him with hers, and when he asks her to assume the reins of their field expeditions after he loses both legs in a plane crash, the result of likely sabotage, Meave steps in.”

Primatologist and anthropologist Jane Goodall also praised the memoir:

“A fascinating glimpse into our origins. Meave Leakey is a great storyteller, and she presents new information about the far off time when we emerged from our ape-like ancestors to start the long journey that has led to our becoming the dominant species on Earth. That story, woven into her own journey of research and discovery, gives us a book that is informative and captivating, one that you will not forget.”

Read the New York Times book review and her interview with The Guardian.

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  • […] Read it first before it becomes a movie: the daring adventures of legendary paleoanthropologist and SBU Professor of Anthropology Meave Leakey. The memoir examines her life with fellow paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey, the incredible dangers she faced in the wilds of Kenya (along with the political unrest) to the remarkable discoveries she made that have helped us better understand the evolution of humankind. See the full story on SBU News. […]

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