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A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived:…
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A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived: The Human Story Retold Through… (2016)

by Adam Rutherford

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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5611929,450 (4.05)40
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. Since scientists first read the human genome in 2001 it has been subject to all sorts of claims, counterclaims and myths. In fact, as Adam Rutherford explains, our genomes should be read not as instruction manuals, but as epic poems. DNA determines far less than we have been led to believe about us as individuals, but vastly more about us as a species. In this captivating journey through the expanding landscape of genetics, Adam Rutherford reveals what our genes now tell us about history, and what history tells us about our genes. From Neanderthals to murder, from redheads to race, dead kings to plague, evolution to epigenetics, this is a demystifying and illuminating new portrait of who we are and how we came to be.… (more)
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» See also 40 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
Really strong. Couldn't put it down at first. Got to around 92% before I flagged. This actually explained a few genetics concepts that I obviously hadn't fully "got" (during my, er... biology degree and project on genetics) so effectively that I'll be giving this to everyone as Christmas presents. Debunks racial "science", loads of interesting stuff on human origins (with the Neanderthals and Denisovans etc.), some history of science, and evolution. The only part I wasn't so sure of was the "defending science" bit at the end, but that's partly because I don't need convincing as I've seen evidence with my own eyes.

There was recently a trial* showing that teaching genetics before evolution improves understanding, and I think this book would serve very well as the general introduction a layperson needs to both get interested in the subject and lay a foundation for accurately comprehending how evolution works.

*Mead R, Hejmadi M, Hurst LD (2017) Teaching genetics prior to teaching evolution improves evolution understanding but not acceptance. PLoS Biol 15(5): e2002255. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.2002255 ( )
  RFellows | Apr 29, 2020 |
Man's history is better told in its DNA than in its artifacts and written word, and best told in the combination of DNA evidence, collected artifacts and other data. Rutherford adds extensive DNA research findings to the already found evidence of artifacts that archaeologists have replied upon for so long. Yet, both DNA and archaeology require stupendous amounts of reasoning, logic, insight, deductive reasoning and supporting details from other data in order to create the most accurate picture of the earlier history of our own species.
This book offers an interesting read about our past, differing with some previous findings and beliefs, presenting some that are seen differently by other writers and adding a lot to the overall understanding of our species' development through time.
Much of science involves deductive reasoning that produces conclusions which are workable but not necessarily accurate. (The strength of science, of course, is that when its previous conclusions ARE found to be inaccurate, they are discarded). One conclusion that the Rutherford's work rests upon is that Homo Neanderthal died out as a separate and distinct species through interbreeding with Homo Sapiens to become the current species of Homo Sapiens we all are. This conclusion is speculative and differs with the one presented and developed in the book "Sapiens", a current best seller and another highly worthwhile book everyone should read.
Rutherford has pieced together a fascinating and engaging read for lay people such as myself that helps make a very complex science-the interpretation of DNA evidence-into a comprehensible contribution to everyone's understanding of our own past.

( )
  Paul-the-well-read | Apr 21, 2020 |
Man's history is better told in its DNA than in its artifacts and written word, and best told in the combination of DNA evidence, collected artifacts and other data. Rutherford adds extensive DNA research findings to the already found evidence of artifacts that archaeologists have replied upon for so long. Yet, both DNA and archaeology require stupendous amounts of reasoning, logic, insight, deductive reasoning and supporting details from other data in order to create the most accurate picture of the earlier history of our own species.
This book offers an interesting read about our past, differing with some previous findings and beliefs, presenting some that are seen differently by other writers and adding a lot to the overall understanding of our species' development through time.
Much of science involves deductive reasoning that produces conclusions which are workable but not necessarily accurate. (The strength of science, of course, is that when its previous conclusions ARE found to be inaccurate, they are discarded). One conclusion that the Rutherford's work rests upon is that Homo Neanderthal died out as a separate and distinct species through interbreeding with Homo Sapiens to become the current species of Homo Sapiens we all are. This conclusion is speculative and differs with the one presented and developed in the book "Sapiens", a current best seller and another highly worthwhile book everyone should read.
Rutherford has pieced together a fascinating and engaging read for lay people such as myself that helps make a very complex science-the interpretation of DNA evidence-into a comprehensible contribution to everyone's understanding of our own past.

( )
  Paul-the-well-read | Apr 21, 2020 |
Genetically you are unique.

However, there is nothing particularly special about being unique if everyone else is…

In your 23 base pairs of DNA there are around 20,000 human protein-coding genes. To put this in perspective, a banana has 36,000... The first complete draft of the sequence was published on February 12th 2001. Being able to read this code of T C G A’s is one thing; being able to understand it is another, and we are nowhere near being able to manipulate it yet either. This code is what makes you, you, but hidden deep within it are the countless secrets of our forefathers and mothers, the history of our species including the echoes of past events. There is even small amounts of Homo Neanderthalensis and Homo Denisovan genome intertwined within our homo sapiens DNA.

Rutherford takes us on this fascinating journey up and down our collective family trees via the spirals of our DNA. No subject is beyond his gaze, hair and eye colour, to the horrors of eugenics to finding out if a body under a carpark is a deceased monarch or why it seems to be those of European descent are the only ones who can drink milk. There are some amusing parts, such as when he lists just what journalists think that scientists have found the genes for and the genetic peril of being in the Royal family. Given how complicated this subject could have been, and it did occasionally go right over my head, it is written with a refreshing clarity. The anecdotes and stories that are in here add greatly to the book. Thankfully I could understand most of it, which is the principle aim of these books to bring science to the wider audience. ( )
  PDCRead | Apr 6, 2020 |
Pop-sci of human genome and its place today, couched in the view from history.

This book is firmly in my wheelhouse, with it being genetics told from a grumpy British viewpoint. Read whilst in East Africa—interspersed with Lonely Planet—so felt fitting. Knowing him from the radio, read the whole thing in his voice. Which is happening more often these days.
  thenumeraltwo | Feb 11, 2020 |
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Rutherford, Adamprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Garceau, PeteCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mukherjee, SiddharthaForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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