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4.6 out of 5 stars27
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 6 October 2013
One of the very best books I have ever read to put readers into the picture regarding the latest understandings of human settlement history in Europe and beyond from the earliest hunters to Medieval times. It is written is a style that somehow balances a lot of detail with conveying the big picture in a nicely flowing narrative. Its a very useful book full of references to the latest research that would be of interest and very good reference source to professional archaeologists like myself but written in a narrative style that the general reader interested in Europe's human history but without any detailed knowledge would very much enjoy too. Its the first book that really combines the new DNA evidence with the latest archaeological and linguistic research in a way that provides the big picture. This book will save the reader having to wade through hundreds of disperate papers and publications across several disciplines by bringing it all together.
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on 6 September 2013
Despite my high esteem for Chris Stringer's Homo Britannicus and Barry Cunliffe's Europe Between the Oceans and Britain Begins, those books fell short of satisfying my thirst for the full integration of recent DNA findings with archaeology and its specialties. Now at last we have that in this brand new book Ancestral Journeys.

I think this book would be equally good as an overview for someone not yet familiar with the field of population genetics or the origin of the people of Europe, and as a deskside reference to European DNA for someone more familiar with the field.

The illustrations are very skilfully placed and referenced in the text, not distracting as in some books. Well done to the editor who laid all that out.

This book makes going to primary sources easy, with everything footnoted.

The book passed my two toughest tests: I spotted only one misprinted word, and the minefield of my own complicated Y-DNA haplogroup is negotiated judiciously; in fact, it is such a good description that I will probably start quoting it.

The whole book is written in an executive summary style, with short sentences usually stating only one fact. What a pleasure to read, compared to academic papers. But the text is not dumbed-down, such as by calling haplogroups by names like "Rory" or "Helen". All the correct detail is there, even if it is smoothed out for quicker reading. An example is replacing the non-self-descriptive term "Younger Dryas" with "big freeze." I like that.
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on 24 September 2013
Many books try to tell the story of how Europe was peopled but fail - in some ways - by concentrating on one part of a very complex story. Jean Manco succeeds, with Ancestral Journeys,because she uses evidence from different fields to build a convincing case. More importantly for the lay reader, she makes the science easy to understand and weaves it into a good and solid story.
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on 7 January 2014
Jean Manco draws together DNA evidence with archaeological and linguistic discoveries in this book.
The work indicates that waves of mass movement rather than population continuity in prehistoric and early historic times lay behind the formation of the various peoples and nations of Europe.

This is backed up by a recent Oxford University genetic map by Sir Walter Bodmer snd Mark Robinson which shows a heavy Germanic influence from Yorkshire to the south coast and Dorset to Kent. Wales, Scotland, Ireland and Cornwall have different genetic clusters. It seems that Bede's famous account of the coming of the Saxons was correct after all!
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on 26 March 2014
I read this book with great interest and even greater joy page after page. Ms Jean Marco has managed to combine a number of different sciences and create a synthesis showing what we know today about who we are in Europe. The Basis for this study is the present and always developing science of DNA analysis.

I was very pleased to find out that Ms Marco has managed to present information in such a way that if you want to ponder individual haplogroups you can, but what it all leads to is the focus of the story. Her ability to clearly tell you what we know of our past from the Stone Age to basically 1 000 AD is extremely impressive. The Support through the book of a large number of maps are also first class.

Having read this book a huge number of question marks have been lifted from my understanding of our ancient past but also a number of new ones have arrived that begs to be answered. I do hope there will be an update of this book every five or ten years since the science of DNA analysis are taking such great leaps forward. We might actually be able to tell where these Basques came from!
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on 8 January 2014
No long introductions or waffle here. The book jumps straight into the subject matter, fusing DNA evidence with linguistics, (supported by archaeological evidence where necessary) to paint a picture of ancestral migration across Europe. The casual reader might find it a little intense, in which case a quick refresher in (Roman and after) European history might be useful .
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on 22 March 2014
I loved this book, despite struggling at times with all the changing names of peoples/tribes, ancestral areas. It doesn't have all the answers and doesn't pretend to, but it points to what is potentially knowable (we need more datable bodies!) and synthesises information from a range of disciplines in a way which amounts to more than the sum of parts. One for re-reading, probably more than once.
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on 19 August 2014
An excellent well researched book. It relies on facts not waffle. It is not an easy read but then a serious subject like this must inevitably require its reader to put in great effort and concentration (Well, I found it hard work. Perhaps others will not)
Well worth the price.
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on 8 March 2015
This is a very well researched and therefore authoritative book with numerous helpful maps and illustrations, extensive footnotes and a long list of sources. It has greatly added to my layman's previously vague and defective understanding of ancient migrations.I hesitated before awarding five stars because, for me, the detail is so great that the book comes close to being a work of reference rather than a book to read. Nevertheless, highly recommended if you are willing to grapple with a subject which cannot be made simple without being dumbed down.
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on 18 May 2014
A fascinating and interesting book for anyone interested in or studying :Anthropology; Archaeology or European History and Ethnicity. It would also be useful for ;Classicists and politicians of all political persuasions!
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