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The Scots: A Genetic Journey
 
 

The Scots: A Genetic Journey [Kindle Edition]

Alistair Moffat , James Wilson
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)

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Review

'One of four most versatile Scottish writers' --Alexander McCall Smith - The Herald

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‘Here, guided by Jim Wilson’s researches into Scottish genetic history, he (Alistair Moffat) tackles on the of the biggest stories possible: linking up the story of the earliest Scots to the earliest men... He is wonderfully able to communicate the epic elements of the story – which matters because that’s precisely what man’s survival has been’ - David Robinson, The Scotsman ‘I’ve been enjoyably immersed in it since it arrived on my doorstep last week...wonderfully readable. This is no dry, academic account, but it’s the most fascinating and thought-provoking treatment of interlocking aspects of our early history I’ve yet to read. I recommend it whole-heartedly’ - Colin Will, poet and publisher ‘Alistair Moffat explores the history of where we all came from, with the help of new DNA science’ - BBC Radio Scotland ‘In The Scots: A Genetic Journey, historian and broadcaster Alistair Moffat taps into the latest advances in DNA science to find that our origins lie not only deep in the mists of time, but right off the map... with the help of historical geneticist Jim Wilson, he finds that, post-Ice Age, Scotland's earliest settlers walked here from what is now Spain’ - Jim Gilchrist, Scotsman ‘In The Scots: A Genetic Journey, Alistair Moffat and James F. Wilson explore the history that is printed in our genes, and in a remarkable new approach come to some fascinating conclusions about who we are and where we came from’ - The Orcadian ‘The fusion of science and the physical history – like an abandoned croft – allows people to trace their Scots ancestry with precision’ - Sunday Herald ‘The Scots: A Genetic Journey, a book and radio series based on Moffat and Wilson’s research, concludes that all Scots are immigrants by descent. Britain as a whole is a mongrel nation’ - Julian Baggini ‘Skillfully written, weaving together genetics, archaeology, history, and topics of interest like red hair ‘ - James Honeychuck on Amazon History has always mattered to Scots, and rarely more so than now at the outset of a new century, with a new census appearing in 2011 and after more than ten years of a new parliament. An almost limitless archive of our history lies hidden inside our bodies and we carry the ancient story of Scotland around with us. The mushrooming of genetic studies, of DNA analysis, is rewriting our history in spectacular fashion. In The Scots: A Genetic Journey, Alistair Moffat explores the history that is printed on our genes, and in a remarkable new approach, uncovers the detail of where we are from, who we are and in so doing colour vividly a DNA map of Scotland.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent new survey of British DNA 1 Mar. 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The book summarizes the state of knowledge of the genetic makeup of Scotland. Beyond that, it is actually a very welcome new summary of what is known of the DNA of the British Isles in general. Nice concise survey of Neanderthal DNA and the modern human out-of-Africa bottleneck, and then descriptions of the various waves of migration to Scotland, the rest of Britain, and Ireland. Very up-to-date too. Skilfully written, weaving together genetics, archaeology, history, and topics of interest like red hair. No footnotes, and just a short bibliography. Those familiar with this field will already be familiar with the academic sources of some of the findings. But if not, as a note in the bibliography suggests, the Internet is a vast source of information on this subject. Use of non-glossy paper and a limited number of colour photographs (about 23) has kept the price down, which is also greatly appreciated. I spotted only about three typos in the book, one of which was important: p.65, "mtDNA 2a1" should read (I think) "mtDNA J2a1." I would definitely recommend this as the book for anyone who wants a very readable overview of the DNA of the British Isles.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Exactly a Genetic Journey 9 July 2012
Format:Hardcover
The authors places a great deal of emphasis on the earliest peoples to inhabit the British isles after giving a brief introduction to the science of genetics. The earliest genes are the most tell tale genetically and so the reader is treated to stories and speculation regarding the prehistoric peoples that inhabited Britain before and after the last ice age. There is, of course, a chapter on the Vikings and their alleged contribution to the Scottish gene pool and even a brief chapter on the multi-ethnic Scotland of today and what that might mean for the future of "Scottish" genes.

All of that is fine and good and there are some interesting stories and anecdotes along the way, but this is not STRICTLY a genetic history of Scotland. This reads more like a history of Scotland, offered in various threads that do not always tie so well to one another, with genetics as something of an afterthought appended to the discussion of the various peoples and invasions that led up to the creation of medieval Scotland. The Viking invasions - in light of genetics - are described as recent events. The problem is that the book fails as a clear, coherent history of Scotland and it is certainly not a serious genetic history either. Compared to much more serious, yet highly readable works like Cavalli Sforza's "The Great Human Diasporas" this book falls short of the mark vis a vis genetic history. There are not enough maps and charts of Scottish genes for this to be considered a serious resource for those interested in the genetic make up of the Scottish people.

That said, if you are unfamiliar with the history of Scotland and new to the emerging science of genetics or are proud of your Scottish ancestry you might come away satisfied with the tales the authors have to tell.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Read something else 14 Feb. 2014
Format:Paperback
First go at anything on what seems to be a long list of Moffat's "work", and a quick check of some others from checking in the local bookshops confirms worst fears. This is not an author, it's a rehasher. Lavish quotations from other sources (non scientific, non academic stuff, eg tv programmes and wild "spiritual" claims from what seems to be shamans and people suffering delusions) made this example as illuminating as a trawl through the Internet for free. Much of the work I saw - admittedly four books with this on top from the list - are similar and he quotes himself from book to book. It is shocking to see him recommended by chums rather than critics, but predictable.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Making Genetics Real 18 Jun. 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The authors are experts in their field but have the gift of communicating complex biological material to the general reader. This is a great book and I'm so pleased to have come across it, after hearing Alistair Moffat interviewed on radio by James Naughtie-who was fortunate enough to have his own DNA analysed for the programme. The ability to read family lineage into 'Deep Time' takes tracing your family tree into a new dimension.
By using skillful writing techniques to reflect our current generation of Scots back through the Middle Ages and earlier, The Scots-A Genetic Journey, introduces the concept of the global human village. We are truly all Jock Tamson's bairns. Great read-looking forward to their next book which I understand is going to widen the net from Scottish ancestry to include British heritage as well.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely fascinating and quite fun. 18 April 2011
By D. Rice
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Absolutely fascinating and captivating. I'm sure that what's on offer here genetically speaking, applies to much of the population of the British Isles but the focus is affectionately on Scotland which, if you're a Scot, makes it all the more enjoyable and intriguing. A subject like this could be turgid and dry but it's an entertaining and enjoyable read, tantalising you with asides and examples which seem in themselves worthy of investigation, so much so that I've had the laptop handy throughout, hitting Wikipedia and other sources to expand my understanding. Of course, this might mean that i'll take me six months to finish the book - and I do hope so because it's a very enjoyable place to be.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars He loved it.
Present for my Scots husband. He loved it.
Published 3 days ago by Angela Fenwick
2.0 out of 5 stars Not at all what the title suggests
Pretty average read. As an archaeologist I can say that there are many factual errors and a lot of the material presented as fact is just fiction and imagination. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Norfolk Springs
3.0 out of 5 stars A Genetic Journey
This is the first book I have read on Scottish history from the perspective of DNA origins. It was very interesting. Read more
Published 7 months ago by tugeladiver
5.0 out of 5 stars DNA
This book is a fascinating journey through the history of DNA especially pertaining to the genetic makeup of my little country , so inspiring that I have sent a sample of mine... Read more
Published 10 months ago by James Brown
3.0 out of 5 stars The Scots: A Genetic Journey
Pretty good read, but not exactly as expected. It received considerable publicity when launched and prices for a scan of one's genetic coding seem to be rising...
Published 13 months ago by Jay Bee
5.0 out of 5 stars A read for all the Scot Nats and their equally chauvinistic Little...
Explains just how much we all have in common, the fact that borders in the UK are really nothing but an accident of history and for most of us depending on who our Anglo Norman... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Gillespic
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Journey
Quite a slow methodical read with lots of info to assimilate but informative and compelling. Much new and surprising about our past.
Published 14 months ago by J K GARVEN
4.0 out of 5 stars Most interesting
Well worth the read if you are interested in genealogy. I attended a lecture by the author which inspired me to read more.
Published 17 months ago by Dorothy Osborne
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
At last, a book about genetics that I can understand! This is NOT a boring ,wordy textbook, it is an absolutely fascinating read. I couldn't put it down. Read more
Published 19 months ago by R P Scott
5.0 out of 5 stars Scots Genetics
The philosophers stone. Huge steps have been made filling gaps in our knowledge by the work of the geneticists and archaeologists. Now I know where my wife's brown eyes originate
Published on 25 Jan. 2013 by micmac
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