The leakey family again finds itself back in a familiar place: the headlines. Not only did Meave Leakey draw worldwide attention last week for her latest discovery of hom inid fossils, but in addition her husband Richard, trying to address an opposition political rally in the Kenyan town of Nakuru two weeks ago, was among a group beaten by a mob wielding ax handles and whips. As Virginia Morell shows in Ancestral Passions, her splendid new collective biography of the Leakey family (Simon & Schuster; $30), this is no surprise; Leakeys have been prominent and colorful figures in paleontology and Kenyan...

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