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The Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey Paperback – Feb 17 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (Feb. 17 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812971469
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812971460
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 13.2 x 1.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 181 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #158,487 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on Sept. 21 2003
Format: Hardcover
A few years ago a furor arose over the announcement that a calculation of mitochondrial DNA mutation rate formulated an "African Eve". Since then other genetic ancestral studies have been undertaken. Most notable of these was the determination that Neanderthal was not a direct ancestor of modern humans. Spencer Wells provides an enthralling overview of the research tracking changes in the Y [male] chromosome. The studies verify again that our origins are African. Somewhere, around 60 000 years ago, lived one man, a flesh and blood individual, from whom we've all descended. His progeny, in an amazingly short span, scattered around the globe. The scattering isn't news, but the verification of the paths and chronology is lucid and vividly outlined in this book.
The key to the tracking, as Wells makes abundantly clear, are various polymorphisms [changes] in the Y chromosome. These mutations are reflected in today's populations and the rate of their diversity indicates the approximate age of the various regional groups. These changes, nearly all prefixed "M" [male?] are used as ingredients in recipes Wells offers as illustrative metaphor. It's a clever ploy, so long as you remember ingredients may only be added, never removed nor replaced. That's how genetics works, he reminds us. He portrays the build-up of recipe ingredients with maps and diagrams. The diagrams are almost redundant as the clarity of his prose enables you to envision them.
Following the paths of migration, Wells shows how some archaeological finds offer support for the patterns he sees. Fossils are rare, elusive and sometimes misunderstood. Genetics, buried deep in our cells, are unequivocal in providing their evidence.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Eugene Tenenbaum on June 3 2004
Format: Paperback
The paperback edition does not include any photographs. They are essential and included in the hardcover edition in a great number!!!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 14 2004
Format: Paperback
I am Indian (with roots in the Indian subcontinent) and I like the way Spencer Wells touches upon our "aryan" Y-chromosome that (as he explains) we share with the eastern europeans. Take that Hitler. And yes I too feel this book beats Seven Daughter of Eve (by Bryan Sykes)by far.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Vicki L. on May 22 2004
Format: Paperback
Spencer Wells, unlike Bryan Sykes who wrote Seven daughters of Eve, is not an egomaniac. Wells mostly sticks just to the facts. Included in JOM are some excellent bits on the Aryan YChromosome being present in Indians of India to Eastern Europeans. Plus, that India-Indians also often possess the Y chromosome of Neolithic Middle Eastern ancestry that nearly all European have in their bodies as well. Other good facts in JOM too. Thanks Spencer.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 21 2004
Format: Paperback
That's for sure. Author Spencer Wells doesn't blab endlessly about himself in it like like Bryan Sykes did about himself in SDOE. Wells just sticks more to Genetic science facts. This book also is the reverse of SDOE in that that book, when it wasn't about Sykes (which was rare), concerned the mitochondrial DNA inherited from mothers. This better book by Wells concerns the Y-chromosome inherited from fathers. There is info info on the Aryan dna y chromosome, which does scientifically exist. Also, Wells mentions rarely-known fact that Indians of India posses some aryan Y Chromosomes plus they (like nearly all europeans) have the Mid-East Y chromsome from the neolithics who left Syria around 10,000 years ago trekking to various part of the wortld. Great book all around (Wells's book that is, not Sykes's).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By R. Hardy on Feb. 6 2003
Format: Hardcover
Archeologists dig all over the earth to find the history of people who existed too early to leave a written history. There is a new sort of archeology, however, that is changing our long-range view of human pre-history. Scientists are digging into cells, into the genes that everyone knows make us what we are. The details from this new research have given revolutionary insight into where humans came from, how they spread, and the origin and superficiality of races. In _The Journey of Man_ (Princeton University Press), Spencer Wells, a population geneticist, has written a wonderfully clear book of origins, drawing upon not just genes but history, geography, archeology, and linguistics.
In part, the book is a summary of refutations against the ideas of anthropologists who maintained that different races were subspecies that arose in different regions at different times. No such hypotheses could be tested in the time they were issued, and now they can. DNA in the cells from mitochondria, and the DNA in the male Y chromosome do not shuffle the way ordinary chromosomes do, and thus are very stable from one generation to the next. Mutations happen, and accumulate, and may be used to see how closely related humans from different regions of the world are. The genetic results of both mitochondrial and Y chromosome research confirm each other, and are unambiguous. We are all out of Africa. We stayed in Africa as humans for generations, and almost all the genetic variation we were going to get was within us at that time. Then around 40,000 years ago, propelled perhaps because of weather changes, we started our travels.
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