A Brief History of Everyone who Ever Lived: The Stories in Our Genes
This is a story about you.
It is the history of who you are and how you came to be. It is unique to you, as it is to each of the 100 billion modern humans who have ever drawn breath. But it is also our collective story, because in every one of our genomes we each carry the history of our species - births, deaths, disease, war, famine, migration and a lot of sex.
I recently heard of Nicholas Wade’s A Troubling Inheritance (2014) but before I got to that one I found thi ...more
Well, hm. That was very... British.
In the sense that its assumed core audience was Brit, and a lot of the references and examples aimed at them. I watch enough PBS and read enough Britlit not to be wholly at sea, but I noticed in a way that might be invisible to the intended audience. The writer almost always corrects the casual assumption that his reader will be male, but he misses a few subtle spots. (Dear lord English desperately needs a generally accepted, unclum ...more
“What genes are and what they tell us about people are very closely related, but not, in almost all cases, definitive. This is a seam that will run throughout this book, confronting and dispelling the culturally ubiquitous idea that genes are fate, and a certain type of any one gene will determine exactly what an individual is like. That this is a fallacy is universally known among geneticists, yet it is s ...more
I hate it when books don't deliver on their titles. I was expecting a brief history of everyone who lived. Spoiler: Didn't happen. Various chapters are devoted to the authors own pet peeves like how genetics is misrepresented in the media.
A much better book, which at least lives up to it's title, is
And Biology is complex.
I see that it took nearly three months for me to read this. My sincere apologies to Adam Rutherford, for that length of time might constitute a reflection on his ability to engage, entertain, inform and delight. Not so, not so. I'm not sure why this stayed on my currently reading table for quite so long, because it is actually utterly fascinating. And not d ...more
Marvellous book, and I couldn't get enough of it! The author does a great job rounding up exactly what makes us, humans, unique and at the same time homogeneous. My favourite sections were of course on our relation to other species of Hominids and the failed attempts by some scientists to show correlation between genetics and predisposal to criminal behaviour. Written in an ...more
The books also picks apart our definition of race, the ones that are based on how we look. It is fairly meaningless since there are more differences in the genes within "racial" group ...more
Rutherford's book consists of two parts. Part One, “How We Came to Be,” lives ...more
It must not be easy to write about the story in our genes, the genes of humankind, in a very accesible, highly gripping way, full of delightful (british) humour (and nerdy references!).
Yet in A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived, Adam Rutherford achieves it, and makes you feel passionate about it. Along a very ingenious drawn narration, from the beginning to the present, he touches such sensible topics as endogamy, racism (really impres ...more
The epiphanies I hoped for never arrived. That's not entirely Rutherford's fault. As he points out in the book, it's a complex subject, and ancestry-mapping is not the main point, there are bigger fish to fry, like treating or curing inherited disease.
Still, DNA research tells us a lot, but most of what Rutherford r ...more
1. How we came to be
2. Who we are now
‘Brief History’ is an amazing journey whichever way it’s viewed and takes us from the very origins ...more
He bent the facts to fit his agenda a bit ...more
But the desire to understand heritage, Rutherford reminds us, is an ancient desire—and twisted into that desire are our concerns about identity and relationships, and our sense of self.....
As Rutherford concludes, we cannot investigate “heritage” simply by studying DNA; we also need to understand the social and political history of ...more
"By asking how recently the people of Europe would have a common ancestor, he constructed a mathematical model that incorporated the number of ancestors an individual is presumed to have had (each with two parents), and given the current population size, the point at which all those possible lines of ascent up the family trees would cross. The answer was merely 600 years ago. Sometime at the ...more
I enjoyed this book but was also frustrated by it. I couldn't quite figure out what the main point of the book was. Maybe that genetics/genomics is totally misunderstood by the general public. "Are we slaves or masters of our genes? We are neither, and it’s a dumb, simplistic question."
Still the author has an engaging, almost conversational style, with occasional dry humor, and he provides much interesting information. Everyone of European descent is descended from Charlemagne. Ever ...more
Part of what’s compelling here is simply the science: the field of human genetics is advancing so quickly, in so many directions, that every month brings new and fascinating studies. And it’s such a widespread field that it’s hard to keep up with it unless that’s you ...more
Homo sapiens emerged from Africa at least years ago. Neanderthals, Deniso ...more