In a novel of breathtaking reach and inspired imagination, the Booker Prize-winning author of Schindler's Ark tells the stories of two men who have much in common. What separates them is 42,000 years.Shade lives with his second wife amid their clan on the shores of a bountiful lake. A peaceable man, he knows that when danger threatens, the Hero ancestors will call on him to kill, or sacrifice himself, to save his people.Over 40,000 years later, Shade's remains are unearthed near the now dry Lake Learned in New South Wales. The sensational discovery fascinates Shelby Apple, a documentary film maker who tracks the controversies it provokes about who the continent's first inhabitants were and where Shade's bones belong.Shelby goes on to follow his own heroes to the battlefields of Eritrea and the Rift Valley where Homo sapiens sprang from. When he, too, faces mortality and looks back on his passions, ideals and sorely tested marriage, Learned Man stands as an enduring spirit, a fellow player in the long, ever-evolving story of humankind.