Ostracized by his tribe for not throwing his spear during the hunt, a boy wanders the forest where almost by accident he discovers the principle of the bow and arrow, thereby changing the life of his own people and that of the neighboring tribes.
from the dustjacket:
"Throughout history the world has dreamed of peace, yet we continue to live in a world plagued by war. The Great Bow is an antiwar story in the broadest sense, a strong, dramatic, and exciting book that provides insight into the often senseless causes of war.
Atta, a member of the prehistoric Wolf tribe, is different from the other boys more thoughtful and imaginative. During a tribal ceremony, Atta is judged a coward when he is unable to sacrifice a bison; then he is cast out to be a wanderer a Nothing.
By chance, while trying to build a fire, Atta invents the first bow and arrow. Joyfully he returns to his people to teach them how to make and use this magical weapon.
The bow and arrow soon make hunting too easy for the Wolf people. The braves, grown restless, begin to think about using the weapon to drive the Vulture people out of their hunting grounds. Where before there had been no war, suddenly there is a weapon that makes a new kind of war possible."