Who We Are and How We Got Here: Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past
Massive technological innovations now allow scientists to extract and analyze ancient DNA as never before, and it has become clear--in part from David Reich's own ...more
This was the book that I wanted the last book I read on the topic to be. Concentrates on the science, lucidly written, although probably best not read when one is too fatigued or sleepy. Its explanations seem as simple as possible but no simpler, which I appreciate. This is a round-up of the most recent (as of about the end of 2017) science of ancient DNA by one of the scientists working on the subject. It's such a fast-moving field right now (faster than print publishing, to be sure) even a yea ...more
We geneticists may be the barbarians coming late to the study of the human past, but it is always a bad idea to ignore barbarians. We have access to a type of data that no one has had before, and we are wielding these data to address previously unapproachable questions about who ancient peoples were.. This book has many very, very good qualities. It is, without doubt, the best modern summary of ancient genome research and how it is transforming our understanding of the past available. However, i ...more
The picture that is emerging consists of so many past migrations and m ...more
Without having any special knowledge of genomics, anthropology or archeology, I am not well placed to review this book. Therefore, what follows is just my impressions and main take from it. Admirably, Reich’s book is not Eurocentric, it covers all the regions to some extent. But mine notes ...more
We scientists are conditioned by the system of research funding to justify what we do in terms of practical application to health or technology.
Reich does an admirable job laying out the field of genomics and its implications on our understanding of human origins, migration patterns, and related fields of linguistics, and medicine.
The book pulls largely from Reich's own research work and samples at his Harvard laboratory. He navigates the ethics of genetic research with special sensitivity to how this research has been abused and misuse ...more
This review will likely be updated as I mull over or re-read the book.
[…] when we discover biological differences governing behavior, they may not be working in the way we naively assume. — David Reich, Who We Are and How We Got Here.
Reich has done a tremendous job condensing the work of many people and disparate areas of research into a compelling story that is po...more
Tagged it Dewey 500s, for applied science. Library of Congress catalogs it 572 for human genetics.
Part I - The Deep History of Our Species ...more
Archeology has been transformed in the last decade, by the ancient DNA hunt. Reich allows us something precious, to see large and profound errors corrected, nearly as they are first discovered. But it just isn't that readable and the forest of details obscures even the giant new facts (Denisov ...more
"This book, even with its flaws, is worth reading for the great overview it gives into the emerging ancient DNA field that could have profound impacts on culture, politics, and science."
"Who We Are and How We Got Here" is great book with some flaws. As a one-stop guide for catching up with the ancient DNA revolution, it is unequaled. It is also a refreshingly honest look into the life of a practicing prominent scientist in the age of large research labs and giant research consortiums.
Coming along for the ride are some lucid explanations of many of the statistical tests used in ancestry mapping, like the Four Populations Test, and methods used to estimat ...more
What a great read! This book is basically a summary of the state of the art in terms of genetic research using ancient DNA (i.e. DNA from skeletal remains up to hundreds of thousands years old) and the use of data taken from the whole genome at once, instead of just small stretches of it, as done before, made possible technological advances that allowed the costs of ...more
Also, the book turned out to be rather unnecessarily ruminating over philosophical aspects of various findings, while the same groun ...more
Unfortunately, the author finds it necessary to make disparaging, and in my opinion misleading, remarks about Nicholas Wade, Henry Harpending, and James Watson. He also repeatedly attac ...more
Efforts to reconstruct the long ago have generally f ...more
This books gives an overview of the new methods of using “ancient DNA” to learn about human history. There are really 3 parts to it - (1) an overview of the new methods (which are very new); (2) a revised history of the ancestry of various regions using these methods (North America, East Asia, Africa, etc.); and (3) the implications of this new research/knowledge on modern policy debates.
So the second part is the longest and most interesting. The ta ...more
Previously I had a vague sense that humans evolved in Africa, then migrated in stages to other parts of the world and proceeded to hang out there for about 40,000 years during which nothing much happened, until for some reason ancient civilizations started t ...more
This is a textbook-like survey of the author’s work using whole DNA as opposed to Y DNA or mitochondrial DNA to analyze ancient bones in an effort to uncover the origin of modern humans. The process is incredibly technical and is really a mat ...more
A wonderful book detailing the very latest research into human origins brought to light by the study of full genomes of ancient DNA. Reich was involved in the group in Leipzig that first decoded the full genome of Neanderthals, and since setup a lab in the US that specializes in the automated factory like decoding of genomes of ancient people's across the World.
Here is an insider's account of the a field that is overturning much of what we know about human origins.