Who We Are and How We Got Here : Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past
by Reich, David

Part I The Deep History of Our Species
1 How the Genome Explains Who We Are
2 Encounters with Neanderthals
3 Ancient DNA Opens the Floodgates
Part II How We Cot to Where We Are Today
4 Humanity's Ghosts
5 The Making of Modern Europe
6 The Collision That Formed India
7 In Search of Native American Ancestors
8 The Genomic Origins of East Asians
9 Rejoining Africa to the Human Story
Part III The Disruptive Genome
10 The Genomics of Inequality
11 The Genomics of Race and Identity
12 The Future of Ancient DNA
Notes on the Illustrations287(4)

A pioneer in the study of ancient DNA examines how technological advances in genomics are profoundly changing today's understanding of human prehistory while resolving many long-standing controversies about racial and sexual inequality.

DAVID REICH, Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, is one of the world’s leading pioneers in analyzing ancient human DNA. In a 2015 article in Nature, he was named one of ten people who matter in all of the sciences for his contribution to transforming ancient DNA data "from niche pursuit to industrial process." Awards he has received include the Newcomb Cleveland Prize from the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Dan David Prize in the Archaeological and Natural Sciences for his computational discovery of intermixing between Neanderthals and Homo sapiens.

This is the story of what, enabled by technological quantum leaps, recent genomic research, from 2009 to the present, has already revealed about the deep past of the human species, of which modern humans are a subgroup. Perhaps the most well-known discovery has been that that other subgroup, Neanderthals, interbred with modern humans. Rather less well-known but just as earthshaking is the discovery of another human subgroup, the Denisovans, and the possibility that yet more will be discovered. The three sections of researcher Reich's summary report on genomic analysis of ancient DNA lay out how the gleanings of such research reveal the variety and the dispersal of prehistoric humans throughout the world, how ancient DNA discloses humanity's development in different parts of the world, and the implications of ancient DNA research for the future, especially for dispelling race-based conceptions of differences among modern humanity. Though probably not the easiest reading of the year, Who We Are and How We Got Here may be the most rewarding for those enthralled by humanity's long prehistory. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

A surprising new description of how Homo sapiens originated in Africa and spread around the world.In his first book, Reich (Genetics/Harvard Medical School) describes the revolution in his specialty, genomics, the branch of molecular biology that analyzes our genes, units of DNA that transmit hereditary information from parent to offspring. Since 2001, when scientists sequenced the human genome for the first time, technology has massively reduced the cost of the procedure. At the same time, researchers have become incredibly adept at extracting DNA from bones as old as 400,000 years. Readers who pay close attention will understand Reich's explanation of what this reveals. As generations pass, strings of DNA in the genome split and recombine, and errors (mutations) appear in individual genes. Comparing one genome to another reveals the relationship between populations more accurately than comparing bones. Mutations appear at a regular rate, allowing researchers to measure time elapsed as evolution proceeds. "Since 2009," writes the author, "…whole-genome data have begun to challenge long-held views in archaeology, history, anthropology, and even linguistics—and to resolve controversies in those fields. The ancient DNA revolution is rapidly disrupting our assumptions about the past." Most agree that migrants from Turkey brought agriculture to Europe about 8,000 years ago. They once agreed that these migrants brought Indo-European languages spoken throughout most Western nations, but the studies in genomics reveal that the languages arrived with later migrants: a "ghost population" from the Russian steppes who also moved east and contributed genes to American Indians. Throughout the book, Reich includes numerous timelines, graphs, maps, and diagrams to assist readers in visualizing his material, but those who are not scientifically inclined may find the narrative difficult to follow—though ultimately rewarding. Not an easy read, b u t an eye-opening account of significant scientific advances that throw a spectacular, often unexpected light on human prehistory. Copyright Kirkus 2018 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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