Who We Are and How We Got Here by David Reich

Who We Are and How We Got Here

A groundbreaking book about how technological advances in genomics and the extraction of ancient DNA have profoundly changed our understanding of human prehistory while resolving many long-standing controversies.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 contributions to the field--that genomics is as important a means of unders...

Details Who We Are and How We Got Here

TitleWho We Are and How We Got Here
Release DateMar 27th, 2018
PublisherPantheon Books
GenreScience, Nonfiction, History, Biology, Anthropology, Genetics, Evolution

Reviews Who We Are and How We Got Here

  • Lois Bujold
    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 (fa...
  • Clif Hostetler
    This book offers readers a description about the human past that has been made possible by recent technological advances in genome research. By comparing whole genomes' worth of DNA from ancient humans of various degrees of antiquity together with the data analysis power of modern computers, a picture of ancient human history has emerged that is filled with multiple migrations by varied branches of the human ancestral family. The picture that is ...
  • Alison
    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 o...
  • Jayesh
    This was a fantastic condensation of modern research on genomics and it's effect on our understanding of anthropology and history. Really, what is it with biologists that they are able to write these books understandable to a relatively lay audience without hiding entire detail about how the scientists go about doing their research and draw conclusions:We scientists are conditioned by the system of research funding to justify what we do in terms ...
  • Mehrsa
    Such fascinating science and research on ancient DNA. I also really loved all the research about the Iranian Nomad populations that are basically the tribe that took over Europe because those are my people (kind of because there was a lot of mixing). It was also stunning to see how inequality and male domination affected genetics. Basically a few really powerful men who spread their DNA far and wide. Women obviously can't have too many children, ...
  • Biafra
    Due to Goodreads limits, this review is cropped. The full review can be found at http://bahanonu.com/syscarut/articles/204/.=======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...
  • Chrisl
    A perception changing book ... but it contained too much information for my attention capacity. Less than 300 pages of text, but seemed longer. Did a lot of skimming. If I had purchased it, rather than borrowing, it would be read it segments with underlining and marginal comments, and would likely be re-visited multiple times ... amazing science.Tagged it Dewey 500s, for applied science. Library of Congress catalogs it 572 for human genetics. "Co...
  • Steve Van Slyke
    Having read earlier books on this topic by Svante Paabo, Spencer Wells and others I was anxious to read something current. I wasn't disappointed. This, as others have said, is an excellent summary of the state of genetic research using ancient DNA to determine how we all got to where we are today. The only downside is that the rate of advancement in the field--as the author states--is so high at the moment that unless you read this within two to ...
  • Peter Mcloughlin
    Traces the general history of humanity from its origins in Africa and the subsequent lineages that went to Europe, South Asia, East Asia, Australasia, The Americas and subsequent African lineages as they changed in the genetic record up to the present. Also covers the detective story behind the discoveries in DNA research which has given us a way more complete history than the archeological record. Tells the varied stories of humanity.
  • Willy C
    Willy Chertman03/29/2018"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 ...
  • Xenophon Hendrix
    The author, David Reich, is a eminent population geneticist whose work is shedding light on questions of archeology and history. This book is primarily about the origins and movements of the ancestors of persons today. When it sticks to that topic, the book is excellent, except for the occasional awkward sentence.Unfortunately, the author finds it necessary to make disparaging, and in my opinion misleading, remarks about Nicholas Wade, Henry Harp...
  • Aaron Arnold
    This is absolutely the book to read if you're interested in genetic history, either your own or humanity's. Reich zooms out tens and hundreds of thousands of years ago, far past most Big History books, discussing how the latest research on recent discoveries of ancient DNA has begun to make sense of the vast movements of peoples in the dim unremembered mists of time from before we have written records. The rapid pace of technological advancement ...
  • Bensmomma
    Fascinating and thought provoking, but very difficult reading, made more so by the author’s tendency to write paragraph-long sentences. A little editing would have made it even more impactful.
  • Gavin Leech
    Incredibly detailed and fresh, but also repetitive and indiscriminate. Had to think quite hard looking at some of the many diagrams showing e.g. hundreds of thousands of years of almost-noise recombination.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 ...
  • John
    4.5 in substance, 3 in actual writing clarity. 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 s...
  • Sue
    The excitement in reading Who We Are and How We Got Here is in witnessing the birth of a new science. David Reich warns the reader in the introduction that studies of ancient DNA are providing new information at such a rapid pace that some of the book’s fascinating findings might already, at publication, be eclipsed by new findings. Reich is not simply reporting on a scientific movement; he is a distinguished geneticist who studies ancient DNA....
  • ChickCounterfly
    This is primarily a book about cutting-edge advances in ancient DNA, but there are also some detours into highly controversial current-day population genetics and behavioral genetics issues.The ancient DNA stuff is fascinating, and made even cooler by the fact that Reich and his lab at Harvard are at the forefront of all the big discoveries. This isn't one of those pop science books where a journalist summarizes research for you. Reich gives a fi...
  • Nico Van Straalen
    In a waterfall-type of style David Reich relates the many discoveries coming from ancient DNA research over the past few years. It is an amazing story, illustrated by many new facts from his own laboratory at Harvard, everything brand-new and published only recently. His book is organized more or less geographically as he discusses the great mixing zones in Europe, South Asia, East Asia, Africa and the Americas. I thought the colonization of Aust...
  • Rāhul
    David Reich leads the DNA laboratory at Harvard University which has been at the forefront of the recent field of population genetics, pioneering many DNA extraction and mathematical analysis techniques to search for clues into the ancestry of various human populations worldwide. In the early days of gene sequencing, mitochondrial DNA and y-chromosomes were respectively analyzed to trace maternal and paternal lineages of people, but recent advanc...
  • Daniel
    Reich is a geneticist who is one of the pioneers of ancient DNA analysis. This books sums up what have been found. Basically humans move around a lot. We moved, settled down and became indigenous, and then new groups moved and mixed with the static group. This happened many times to make us. This book was so good that I listened to it and then read it to fully understand the whole thing. 1. Ancient DNA samples provide hitherto-unavailable glimpse...
  • Gail
    This. Was. Excruciating. I finished this by relying on sheer stubbornness. The topic was of interest and I hoped (unreasonably, it seems) that it would improve as I read. It did not. I fell asleep repeatedly trying to read it. I was thrilled to finish. Why? 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...
  • Ryan
    Who We Are and How We Got Here is mostly about what DNA extracted from ancient skeletons can tell us about migration patterns from the distant past. A couple quick takeaways..This is not my field, and the book is not exactly written for a popular audience, which isn't to say it's unreadable. But one wonders how much more engaging it might have been if Malcolm Gladwell had written it..Millions of years is geologic time, right? Well, it's very hard...
  • Peter A
    Image you feel asleep in 1998 and awoke 20 years later in 2018. Besides the changed political landscapes, you discover how information technology has transformed our lives, from how we interact with others via social media, to how we purchase goods via the internet, and how we created new businesses in a “sharing-economy.” And the changes are continuing to impact how we work, in fact what we will be doing in the future.Information technology ...
  • Vipin Sharma
    I don't know what I feel about this book just yetOne early morning, first thing I read was an article in 'The Economist' about how a new research had proved the validity of Aryan Invasion Theory. Incidentally, this has been a topic which has interested me for quite a while. So, I read the complete article, where in the name of the author of the book was mentioned. I searched his name and found that he had written this book which had been released...
  • Claudia Majetich
    One of the best books I've ever read. Reich explains how his research into ancient DNA has provided with new, unexpected evidence about how human populations have moved around the globe, interacted with each other, transmitting new ideas and genes in the process. He tries hard to avoid the extremely technical details of the statistical methods he uses to analyze the genetic data that newly developed scientific tools can produce. Sometimes there w...
  • Phillip Lecheminant
    This is an excellent follow up for anyone who enjoyed the book Sapiens. The Author, David Reich is a Harvard geneticist who was instrumental in proving that modern humans have traces of Neanderthal DNA. This book is the story of human migration using DNA studies and genetics as the backbone for understanding our ancient ancestors.His second to the last chapter on why anyone hoping to propagate racial stereotypes using genetic differences in popul...
  • Nathan
    One of the most fascinating books I have ever read. Reich walks through recent developments in genetic sequencing as a tool for anthropology, complementing archaeology and linguistics. From Neanderthal ancestry to ghost post populations to the complexities of race- the insights from the book are numerous. I had to reread some of the genetic testing methodology explanations a few times, but overall the book was eminently readable. The principal ar...
  • Baal Of
    This book is about 300 pages, plus a hefty notes and bibliography section, but it felt like a 600 page book when I was reading it, thus the 3 stars instead of 4. The middle section was especially tedious, however there is some great material in here that I think is quite important. In particular, the author takes great pains to explain why scientific knowledge should be considered provisional, and emphasizes the necessity of humility about knowle...
  • Attica Musings
    If you found history class merely glancing over the thousands of years of human history before ancient empires... this book is for you. Learn about how recent advances in genetic analysis of ancient dna found in ancient bones is changing our view of mankind's development. Did they live side by side? Did they move that way? Where did they come from? Are we pure whatever? No, we are an ever evolving human race. All one race. All one big crazy lump ...