Tamed by Alice Roberts


For hundreds of thousands of years, our ancestors depended on wild plants and animals for survival. They were hunter-gatherers, consummate foraging experts, but taking the world as they found it. Then a revolution occurred – our ancestors’ interaction with other species changed. They began to tame them. The human population boomed; civilization began.In her new book, Tamed, Alice Roberts uncovers the amazing deep history of ten familiar speci...

Details Tamed

Release DateOct 19th, 2017
GenreScience, Nonfiction, History, Animals, Environment, Nature, Anthropology, Biology

Reviews Tamed

  • Ian
    A look at the domestication of various plant and animal species in 10 largely standalone chapters, covering dogs, wheat, cattle, maize, potatoes, chickens, rice, horses and apples, with a last chapter covering humans, of which more later.I took a little while to get into this. The first chapter, about dogs, didn’t grab me, but perhaps I just needed some time to get into the book’s style. I definitely got more interested as I went along. It’...
  • Stephen
    interesting science book looking at ten things which have been tamed including humans and a bit science and history but did learn a lot however.
  • Iset
    The way I see it, Tamed has two great strengths to recommend it: the first is its up-to-date research. If you want to know all the latest debates and study findings in the ancient process of domestication of plants and animals, this book will get you up to speed. Understandably this won’t hold true in ten years, however. The second strength is Alice Roberts’ writing. The author is a well-known figure – at least here in the UK – and indeed...
  • Sam Worby
    A good general introduction to domestication and (for me) an update on some of the ground covered in Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel. Clearly this is a fast moving area so the science is likely to go out of date fairly quickly.I enjoyed the range of types of domestication Roberts covered. Some chapters, especially those on dogs, apples and horses were particularly fascinating. Others were weaker, for example the chapter on cattle didn’t...
  • Leftbanker
    I loved this book right out of the starting gate. I stalked Alice Roberts on YouTube and found a great lecture she gave on human evolution. https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_co...Not only is she brilliant and funny, she’s also smoking hot. Now I'm a huge fan (big difference between fan and stalker as now I don't have to live in my van parked across the street from her house). I even bought an Alice Roberts lunch box with a matching thermos, ju...
  • Loz
    A beautifully written book that documents the stories of how 10 species have been tamed by either themselves, other sub-species or humans. Laid out in classic, intellectual and scientific prose Alice Roberts educates with ease, filling the reader with information in a succinct fashion, yet with enough description from the latest areas of research. I throughly enjoyed the final chapter, the summary of the entire book that touched upon some of the ...
  • Chris Demer
    This is a very well researched and interesting book by an excellent scientist and science writer.Roberts looks at evidence from history, pre-history, archaeological evidence and the latest in DNA techniques to investigate the sources of 10 key domesticated plants and animals. As humans have interacted with these other organisms, we have changed them and their behavior to make them more useful to us. They in turn have had a dramatic impact on the ...
  • Emmanuel Gustin
    The author is "Professor of Public Engagement in Science" at the University of Birmingham. At first hearing that sounds like an elaborately made-up title, but if you think of for a little longer, it is a vital role. The future of mankind may very well depend on the level of public engagement with science. And this is an engaging book.If I may quibble a bit: Alice Roberts is a well known television figure, featuring in science and history programs...
  • Katy Noyes
    Ten chapters of social history and science - interesting tidbits in there3.5 starsThis came out last year, but I hadn't heard of it until I saw the Audible version advertised. It sounded like the sort of easy listen that I would enjoy and hopefully learn from, having enjoyed Roberts' television programmes. It turned out to be a mixed bag. Absolutely fascinating on one hand, but rather long-winded on the other as a listen. The dates and delving do...
  • Richard
    Archaeology, biology, genetics, and climate clues brought together to tell the story of domestication. Caution: To love this book you have to get into the back-and-forth debate about the dates of domestication, and single vs multiple origins. It turns out I'm not that interested in that. The first two chapters (dogs, wheat) in particular put me right off this book.But the storytelling grew on me. Yes, there's lots of informed speculation, and the...
  • Crispina Kemp
    As expected of Dr Alice Roberts, her book, Tamed, presents complex biological, anthropological, archaeological and genetic matters in terms everyone can understand. For the book, Dr Alice Robert chooses ten species: Wheat, Rice, and Maize, Apples and Potatoes, Dogs and Chickens, Cattle and Horses, and Humans. She follows the development of these ten species from their wild days through to C21st; looks at the various controversial and conflicting ...
  • Hattie
    A fascinating book about a bunch of animals and plants that have both changed the world, and been themselves very changed, due to their domestication by humans. Alice Roberts is a fantastic writer with a wonderful ability to explain complicated scientific concepts without being either boring or confusing. I found I was able to follow unfamiliar topics like archaeology, while not being bored by things I already knew a bit about.More scientific wri...
  • Alexandra Bazhenova-Sorokina
    I listened to the audio version of the book, and it provided a perfect mixture of comfort that comes with the author’s soothing voice and accent, and of great interest of the stories told. “Tamed” is a great way to learn about contemporary genetics as well as about paleobotany, and this knowledge comes with seeming effortlessness. The only thing I really found odd and out of place were the lyrical pieces at the beginning of each new part: t...
  • Elizabeth
    Explains very complex issues extremely well, and makes them interesting. Thought provoking.
  • Steve
    I bought this book on the basis of the author's December 7, 2017 interview on the BBC History Magazine's History Extra podcast. I had somehow missed that podcast until recently, but upon hearing it immediately bought the book. I was not disappointed. I thoroughly recommend this book. Roberts is a very skilled practitioner of popular science writing and her work is just so readable throughout. I also like her basic intellectual approach, which bot...
  • Yi-Di
    Well-researched and presented, but I wish the book spent less time on the phylogenetics and ancestry of the species in question, and more on how they actually changed the world or what made them so suited to do so. Or for that matter, how we changed them.
  • Paul
    As popular science books goes, this seems like one of the better ones. The first chapter opens with a bit of narrative non-fiction about the beginning of the domestication of dogs and I was worried that the whole book was going to be like that, but I think that's just one forgivable flight of fancy, and the author restrains her desire to add literary flair like that through most of the rest of the book.I was somewhat surprised at how many of thes...
  • Patrick DiJusto
    How did we get dogs and wheat and potatoes and chickens from wolves and savanna grass and inedible tubers and strange feral birds? We created them!As the glaciers retreated after the last ice age, neolithic humans began to put their hand to the world around them. They fed meat scraps to tame wolf cubs and over the centuries turned them into dogs. They planted and watered and fertilized common grasses, which burst into new life as wheat and maize....
  • Dan
    Tamed looks at how and when animals and plants became domesticated. From dogs and horses to apples and wheat and even humans themselves, Alice Roberts looks into how this species changed from being in the wild to living alongside humans. There was potential for the book to simplify the information but it doesn't do that at all. Roberts shares very recent research looking into both the archaeological and the scientific (usually DNA) evidence that ...
  • ⋟Kimari⋞
    You might also enjoy:Strange Harvests: The Hidden Histories of Seven Natural ObjectsThe Founding FishFour Fish: The Future of the Last Wild FoodCod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the WorldAmerican WolfGods, Wasps and StranglersThe Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the WorldThe Omnivore's Dilemma You might also enjoy:✱ Strange Harvests: The Hidden Histories of Seven Natural Objects✱ The Founding Fish✱ Four Fish: The Future of ...
  • Mick Kelly
    Professor Alice Roberts is a well-known and well-respected academic and broadcaster in the popular science field and this book is a tribute to her skill and knowledge. It’s an easy read that imparts a large amount of information while remaining as near to a page-turner as a popular science book can be. She traces the history of ten species (dogs, wheat, cattle, maize, potatoes, chickens, rice, horses, apples and humans) over the millennia in wh...
  • Lauren M
    Parts of this book I loved and make no question of it, it is packed with knowledge spanning archaeology, anthropology and biology. The author has clearly spent a lot of time researching the different chapters and is passionate about the subject areas. I thoroughly enjoyed learning the origins of species we encounter daily and the changes they went through to arrive in the 21st century. However some areas I felt were too light touch and only prese...
  • Cath Ennis
    (4.5 rounded up)It is so satisfying to find an interesting, well-researched popular science book that is also a pleasure to read.Tamed tells the story of how humans domesticated nine important plant and animal species, and how doing so helped to shape human history, modern society, and even our own evolution. The book brings together the latest research from various fields including genetics, palaeontology, archaeology, linguistics, climatology, ...
  • Snoakes
    Tamed is the story of the domestication of nine species that have proved vital for the development of humans from the Neolithic to the present. For each, Professor Alice Roberts looks at the history and the archaeological record and then brings that story bang up-to-date with the latest from the world of genetics.In almost every case, the accepted wisdom is being turned on its head by the geneticists. It's easy for us to think that we clever huma...
  • Cav
    I almost put this one down midway through.Some science books are written in an engaging, interesting manner. Others are dry, arduous, and somewhat lacking cohesion. "Tamed" is an example of the latter. The information presented in the book is interesting, and I was excited to hear where the author would take this book. I was disappointed with it ultimately, however, and found my attention wandering more often than not while reading this. This boo...
  • Popup-ch
    At first I thought this would be a 'World History through a Narrow Slit', e.g. bit like Kurlansky's Salt, and while it does provide some of that with fascinating insights in the Columbian Exchange, there's also so much more. The main thrust of the book is that modern science has changed a lot of the accepted historical record over the last few decades. Roberts looks at how modern DNA methods of dating and analysis have upended many settled theori...
  • Ariel
    I listened to this and I had to take breaks to absorb information, which is why it took me a longish time to read it. The author's lively and colorful writing style brings some rather dry subjects to life. She traces our relationship with a variety of plants and animals back to prehistory, mostly to the Neolithic period when people settled down and started farming. She's very thorough in exploring where cultivation of a critter or a plant began, ...
  • Jae Kay
    Excellent look at the evolution (as Roberts rightly points out, there's not such thing as artificial selection and humanity's domestication of plants and animals is just as much evolution in action as any other selective pressure) of domestic plants and animals (and humans). The author's use of the terms "allies" to describe species such as dogs gets to the heart of the issue. Without teaming up with us wolves would be in, as they are today, the ...
  • Rob
    This was a fascinating read, full of great insight to a wide range of human, animal, and plant evolution and development. Each chapter gave a thorough history of the archaeology and paleontology for each of the subject species, followed by more recent genetic analysis which either supported the previous theories or blew them quite stunningly out of the water. I didn't realise quite how restrictive mitochondrial DNA analysis is in terms of being j...
  • Richard Howard
    I find this a difficult book to review. On the one hand I learned a lot and found the origin stories of the ten chosen species fascinating. On the other hand I found myself longing for some visual input to help illustrate Alice Robert's various theories and conclusions. Some pictures would have been welcome, some maps even more. As with a lot of her writings you can see a TV series on the horizon. I hope one does happen as she is a superb present...