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, Genetics, Anthropology, 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...
  • 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...
  • 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 ...
  • Max
    Reich, a Harvard genetics professor, is a leading scientist investigating ancient DNA. He brings us up to date on the significant progress that has been made in the extraction and analysis of DNA from ancient bones. These recent studies change what we know about the movements of prehistoric peoples and our relationships to archaic humans and each other. In 2010 the genomes of only five ancient people had been published. By 2017 over 700 ancient i...
  • Katia N
    ‘The speed at which the ancient DNA revolution is moving is exhilarating. The technology is evolving so quickly that many papers being published right now use methods that will be obsolete within a few years.’ Without having any special knowledge of genomics, anthropology or archeology, I am not well placed to review this book. Therefore, what follows is just my impressions and main take from it. Admirably, Reich’s book is not Eurocentric, ...
  • 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, ...
  • 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 ...
  • Lauren
    || Who We Are And How We Got Here: Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past by David Reich ||Reich does an admirable job laying out the field of genomics and its implications on our understanding of human origins, migration patterns, and related fields of linguistics, and medicine.The book pulls largely from Reich's own research work and samples at his Harvard laboratory. He navigates the ethics of genetic research with special sensitivi...
  • 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...
  • Lemar
    David Reich comes off as a sincere guy who loves his work: a puzzle master of human ancestry who is among the first with previously missing pieces. The book explains the methods and the subtle art of obtaining and analyzing ancient DNA using the whole genome. This sequencing illuminates far more than mitochondrial DNA or Y-chromosome research could. If you’re still with me you’ll love this book!
  • 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 ...
  • Gavin
    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 ...
  • 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 ...
  • Pequete
    I could have finished this book in 2018, but as I was approaching the end, I started to read it in smaller chunks, to make it last…What a great read! This book is basically a summary of the state of the art in terms of genetic research using ancient DNA (i.e. DNA from skeletal remains up to hundreds of thousands years old) and the use of data taken from the whole genome at once, instead of just small stretches of it, as done before, made possib...
  • 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...
  • Rossdavidh
    Not so long ago, Mayan script could not be read. It was not really until the 1970's that enough was understood to learn many of the most significant facts about the Mayan history, pre-European contact. Prior to that time, there were prominent researchers who thought that the ancient Mayan civilization was a peaceful one. Some even thought that the apparent ruined cities were actually just religious centers, which the Mayans would go to only occas...
  • 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 ...
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • Emily
    I accidentally delivered the e-galley of this book to the wrong device and forgot about it for a year--too bad, because it was fascinating. It certainly deserves my "five stars for having gotten me to look at something familiar in a new way."Previously I had a vague sense that humans evolved in Africa, then migrated in stages to other parts of the world and proceeded to hang out there for about 40,000 years during which nothing much happened, unt...
  • 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...
  • 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....
  • Jack
    A complete account of the new technologies for the study of ancient DNA. Many readers approach the book looking for a more scientific version of the popular "Sapiens" by Harari. That's half the story. Reich is more interested, despite the title on the cover, in who we are than in how we got here or why. Perfect for the scientist or geneticist, a little bit more complex for the average reader. The first part is an illustration of new techniques an...
  • 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...
  • Radiantflux
    40th book for 2018.A wonderful book detailing the very latest research into human origins brought to light by the study of full genomes of ancient DNA. Reich was involved in the group in Leipzig that first decoded the full genome of Neanderthals, and since setup a lab in the US that specializes in the automated factory like decoding of genomes of ancient people's across the World. Here is an insider's account of the a field that is overturning mu...
  • K
    Bad biology, worse social science.See my professional review here: https://www.academia.edu/37523670/Rev...
  • 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...