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

  • 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 ...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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 ...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • Thore Husfeldt
    Human pre-history based on very recent genetic data. Highly informative, both about scientific processes of DNA-based models and about the history of how and when humans settled the planet. As exciting as it gets.
  • Paul Vogelzang
    Fascinating book.
  • Doug
    Extremely well written! A very difficult task to take such a topic (genetics) and make it reasonably understandable to a lay audience. The “genomic revolution” seems like a very exciting area and will be one worth following in the future! Looking forward to a followup book in a few years to see what stereotypes have been broken via a study of ancient DNA! Stay tuned!
  • 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...
  • Betty
    I can say a lot of research went into this book.
  • Robert Stevenson
    There have been many improvements in DNA sequencing over the last ten years but probably the most scientifically disruptive is full ancient DNA sequencing. Daniel Reich highlights how building full genomic representations from ancient DNA is impacting, supporting, countering anthropological and historical pre-existing theories of humanity and human migration. Daniel compares the disruptions to radio-dating for archaeology and microscopes for biol...
  • Ryan Moulton
    It’s mostly the details of this book that are fascinating, but if there's one broad message to take away, it's that the modern era with its blending of divergent people and cultures is not at all unique in human history. We're all mutts, mixtures of groups more different from each other than any two groups of people alive today. Very few people alive today are at all similar to the people who lived in the same place 5000 years ago. The mixing o...
  • 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 ...
  • 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...
  • Nathan Albright
    Although I am by no means fond of the evolutionary worldview of the author, a worldview that is shared by a great many writers of human prehistory [1], there is a great deal to enjoy about this book if one views it as a search for mysterious but clearly human relatives.  When viewed in that light this book can be highly entertaining.  This is not a book that deals with the question of identity on an individual level, but it seeks to understand ...
  • Tony Zale
    Who We Are and How We Got Here is a concise look at how genetics provide deep insights into the history of our species. I came to the book thinking about DNA as the key to understanding an individual’s traits; this book acknowledges that role and then explicitly ignores it. Reich discusses the complexity of mapping genes to traits using the example of height, a relatively simple characteristic. Over 180 independent genes in thousands of differe...
  • Jason Furman
    This book is a testament to the marvel of human evolution. Particularly that humans could evolve to the point where they had the ability, motivation and capability to undertake the research project that David Reich and his many collaborators and colleagues have done to understand tens of thousands of years of history by looking at the DNA of people today and extracting a few thousand samples of ancient DNA as well.Who We Are and How We Got Here i...
  • Murray
    Whole genome analysis of remains of ancestral humans at different locations and in different eras is now used to track the pattern of human migrations and interbreeding. Mutations, or errors in DNA copying, occur on average about every thousand base-pairs at a fairly constant rate. We inherit three billion base-pairs from each parent. The density of different mutations on the same chromosomal segment can act as a “stop-watch” for how long dif...
  • Rekha Shane
    This book wasn't exactly a walk in the park, I found myself re-reading some of the tricky scientific bits in a vain attempt to make them stick to my stubborn brain. Reich is clearly a geneticist first and a writer second (I think we would all be spitting feathers if it was vice versa.) There were some concepts that could have been more simply described than they were, but if you can get yourself through the jargon, at the core of this book lie so...
  • Lawrence
    This is a fabulous book. I had been interested in the studies of the archaic DNA because I was "entertained" by the idea of finding out how much Neanderthal is in me. BUT I had not expected to be so amazed and delighted at how DNA studies have changed and clarified so much about who we are as humans. Did you know that, contrary to my romantic ideas, we white people of European origin have very little genetic inheritance from any hunter-gatherer i...
  • 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...
  • David
    This book is an account of the methods and results to date of mass DNA comparisons of ancient and contemporary humans. This research is novel and revealing about the human past and present. As a non-practicing anthropologist, I find the method and the results fascinating. In spite of a sprightly style, some of the details here are hard to follow, lacking the biochemistry and the math. But no matter—the results are fascinating and the promise gr...
  • Ilya
    This book is a summary of current genetic research that answers the title question: who humanity is and how it got where it is. Modern Britons are largely not descended from the builders of the Stonehenge; the builders got overwhelmed by invaders. Some Amazonian Native Americans are in small part descended from an unknown population that is not ancestral to other Native Americans; they must have been earlier migrants who got overwhelmed by the an...
  • Joe Q.
    "Who We Are and How We Got Here" presents a survey of the genetics of human origins, from the perspective of one of the leaders in the field. Reich outlines the science behind recent discoveries of ancient human lineages that have mixed throughout history to produce the human tapestry we see today. The book is very well-written; in a way, it's unfortunate that the field is progressing so quickly, as it means that it'll be out-of-date that much so...