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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating wide-ranging account of human genetic history.
An extraordinarily clear account of the many interrelated issues in science and archaeology that contribute to our current understanding of human development. After reading any number of books touching on the same material, it was refreshing to read such lucid and literate explanations of so many complex issues. Most of all I was impressed by the way that personal...
Published on 17 Jun 1999

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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars out of Africa
This book is co-authored by a geneticist and a film maker, a father and son. It is written from the point of view of the geneticists and talks about how human beings walked out of Africa and colonised and changed the rest of the world. He uses all kinds of scientific data, as varied as the differences in genes and languages, to show roughly how and when races evolved...
Published on 3 Sep 2000


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating wide-ranging account of human genetic history., 17 Jun 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Great Human Diasporas: The History of Diversity and Evolution (Helix Books) (Paperback)
An extraordinarily clear account of the many interrelated issues in science and archaeology that contribute to our current understanding of human development. After reading any number of books touching on the same material, it was refreshing to read such lucid and literate explanations of so many complex issues. Most of all I was impressed by the way that personal opinion was clearly stated and not disguised as fact. A tour-de-force!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb, informed discourse on genetics, race and evolution, 25 Mar 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: The Great Human Diasporas: The History of Diversity and Evolution (Helix Books) (Paperback)
Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza, a well known and respected geneticist, has teamed up with his son, Francesco Cavalli-Sforza, to write a superb, well-informed, literate, and easy to read book on genetics, race, and evolution. Using the elder Cavalli-Sforza's own research and that of others, the team weaves a story, starting with research on the pygmies, that entertains as well as informs. I am a scientist, but not a geneticist; what I particularly liked about this book is that it spoke in non-jargon language, yet did not shy away from the sophistication and complexity involved in the subject matter. I also liked and applauded the way the authors forthrightly and honestly dealt with subjects of controversy, such as the concept of race, racism, race and IQ, and so forth. Their destruction of the arguments of Jensen, Shockley and Herrnstein that the differences in IQ between Blacks and whites is genetic is beautiful and complete. This is a wonderful book for the layperson as well as the expert who wishes to read outside his or her field.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My beginnings of a diaspora theory, based on the book, 6 Jun 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Great Human Diasporas: The History of Diversity and Evolution (Helix Books) (Paperback)
Here is a theory that springs to mind from reading this sometimes overly simple primer but enjoyable explanation of the fantastic lifework of a humane (if sometimes rather kneejerky liberal) genius, a statistical anthropologist (most anthropologists only think they are scientists, Cavalli-Sforza really is): The map of the "Megalithic culture" in the book, based on their megalithic remains, has a striking similarity to the map of the genetic characteristics of people associated with the Basques, except for there being no Basque strain on Sardinia. And a map of the Celts in Western Europe is highly similar. And if memory serves, so is a map of the dispersion of the Vikings in Western Europe (the latter two, even had an impact on Sicily, as I recall, based on a wave of Celts/Phoenicians). What would cause the familiar pattern? 1. This is a natural pattern by people who settle the Western European lands by arriving at them by sea. 2. They are forced onto border areas by indigenous people or by new groups immigrating by land. 3. Both 1. and 2. The Basques may have found refuge in the Pyranees and been there so long that it accounts for their genetic radiation from that stronghold, but note that otherwise they tend to be a coastal people hugging the Western shores and islands. The lack of representation on Sardinia (although there is some representation on Corsica it appears) could be due to the Basques being so ancient and to island peoples in the Mediterranean being more easily replaced or diluted racially by invaders than on the mainland (even though islanders may be more completely isolated for longer periods of time than mainlanders).
This is a fine book, and the translation from Italian seems to have generally worked very well-- except for the translator not being up to the legerdemain required to explain English pronounciations of cognate words from the languages and language groups, and the occasional use of "and" when "but" was in order. The book fails to make any mention of the climatic effects on geography that would influence these diasporas-- the glaciers and tundra to the North as they waxed and waned, the less distance by water the New Guinainas/Australians had to travel to become New Guinians/Australians due to lower water level and tectonic lift, the nicely watered pastoral fertility of the Shahara for most of early man's existence, etc. The book also does not use qualifiers when it should. I know it is the Strunkian style, but here it is incorrect and I believe may reflect a too simple mind-set of Caralli-Sforza's. There are a lot of mistakes along the lines of using "the first" when the truth is "the earliest we have found so far". And the evolutionary development of modern humans is surely a bushy tree filled with dead ends instead of the orderly simple tree anthropologists routinely present to us as proven fact. I blame the publisher and the editor, in this day of superb computer support, for not seeing to it that the all important maps were better detailed and in color.
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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars out of Africa, 3 Sep 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Great Human Diasporas: The History of Diversity and Evolution (Helix Books) (Paperback)
This book is co-authored by a geneticist and a film maker, a father and son. It is written from the point of view of the geneticists and talks about how human beings walked out of Africa and colonised and changed the rest of the world. He uses all kinds of scientific data, as varied as the differences in genes and languages, to show roughly how and when races evolved from each other; how, at first, the hunter gatherers colonised and populated the continents while our closest brothers (the other species of the genus homo) disappeared. And after that, agriculture was invented which led to a recolonisation of the continents by farmers in a few thousand years, and a (yet unhindered) population explosion. The first half of this book is amazing; it is full of interesting facts and arguments to support Cavalli-Sforza's theories. It explains how genetically close together all the different races are; the most recent ancestor of every one on earth lived less (probably much less) than 200 - 300 thousand years ago. It also explains how different traits, such as skin colours, offer genetic advantages depending on the geographic region. Unfortunately, the study of the differences between races is potentially highly politically uncorrect, and the second half of this book is dedicated to attack racism. Unfortunately, this attack is very weak, and the arguments end up deteriorating into statements along the lines of "there is no such thing as a race" and kept going on around in circles without going anywhere. I guess that the Cavalli-Sforzas could have benefited from the help of social/political/cultural scientists/anthropologists or whoever studies racism. In summary, the first half of this book deserves a big applause, but the second half is a bore.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, 6 July 2011
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This review is from: The Great Human Diasporas: The History of Diversity and Evolution (Helix Books) (Paperback)
I just wanted to confirm the various reviews on this book.
I finished this book in a couple of days so it was keeping me interested.
The only "hic" is the last chapters to do with racism. I found them a bit naive and full of useless text.
Otherwise, definitely a "must buy"
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