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Publisher's Summary

Based on a groundbreaking synthesis of recent scientific findings, critically acclaimed New York Times science reporter Nicholas Wade tells a bold and provocative new story of the history of our ancient ancestors and the evolution of human nature. Just in the last three years, a flood of new scientific findings, driven by revelations discovered in the human genome, has provided compelling new answers to many long-standing mysteries about our most ancient ancestors, the people who first evolved in Africa and then went on to colonize the whole world. Nicholas Wade weaves this host of news-making findings together for the first time into an intriguing new history of the human story before the dawn of civilization.
Sure to stimulate lively controversy, he makes the case for novel arguments about many hotly debated issues such as the evolution of language and race and the genetic roots of human nature, and reveals that human evolution has continued even to today.
In wonderfully lively and lucid prose, Wade reveals the answers that researchers have ingeniously developed to so many puzzles: When did language emerge? When and why did we start to wear clothing? How did our ancestors break out of Africa and defeat the more physically powerful Neanderthals who stood in their way? Why did the different races evolve, and why did we come to speak so many different languages? When did we learn to live with animals and where and when did we domesticate man's first animal companions, dogs? How did human nature change during the 35,000 years between the emergence of fully modern humans and the first settlements?
This will be the most talked about science book of the season.
©2006 Nicholas Wade (P)2006 Tantor Media Inc
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Critic Reviews

"Wade presents the science skillfully, with detail and complexity and without compromising clarity." (Booklist)
"This is highly recommended for readers interested in how DNA analysis is rewriting the history of mankind." (Publishers Weekly)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Albert on 06-15-07

Amazing information

I cannot stop talking about this book and what I learned from it about our human origins. Now I have all my friends reading it.

Sure, sometimes the books gets a bit technical, but hey the topic IS technical. Using our DNA to reveal our history is the ultimate technical tour de force. What a stunning history it is!

Man (about 150 of us) sneaking out of Africa and fighting off, perhaps eventually killing off Neanderathal AND Homo Erectus. This beats any tale Hollywood has cooked up.

How we got to Australia, New Zealand, Tierra del Fuego all such different stories!!!

The concept of genetic drift and how it is as important as Darwin's "survival of the fittest".

What alleles tell us over time and the fact that in mammals, all mtDNA (mitochonrial DNA)is inherited solely from the mother. Every male inherits his father's y chromosome so lineage can be traced for many many generations whether you know the names on your family tree or not!

Why civilization as we know it did not get started until 15,000 years ago even though we left Africa 50,000 year ago!

Why some of us can drink milk as adults and others, like me, get very sick when we do.

Perhaps the most interesting thing is how we are still evolving today.

And of course, as soon as I finished the book I sent for a genetic testing kit. I just have to know for sure where I really came from.

I have to say that this is the most informative book I have ever read. My only real issue is whether it is a work of history or genetics, but of course it is really both...

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59 of 60 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Eduardo on 06-29-07

A saga of epic proportions

Stunning, a masterpiece. A very accessible account of vast breadth and not unappreciable depth. This riveting piece of work reads like a thriller. Wade succesfully summarizes a huge body of data from multiple scientific disciplines, honestly admitting when current knowlege is lacking or still incomplete. This book should be read by "non-believers" in the evolution of the human species.

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33 of 34 people found this review helpful

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