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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best popular science book I've read all year
Even to a mere 16 year old teenager, this book was engrossing. The descriptions of the Seven Daughters of Eve were imaginative, and every line was mixed with humour. Even the most scientific parts of the book were very easy to understand, and even enjoyable, which not many popular science books can do. Sykes has a gift of explaining complex notions clearly, and for that...
Published on 26 July 2006 by J. Takata

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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Falls between two stools
On the whole an entertaining account of how mitochondrial DNA has contributed to our understanding of human origins and dispersion. But the author is unclear as to whether he is writing the tale of what the DNA reveals about our past or an account of his own discoveries. There's a lot of dispensable stuff about research grants and conferences and way too much score...
Published on 31 July 2002


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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best popular science book I've read all year, 26 July 2006
By 
J. Takata (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Seven Daughters Of Eve (Paperback)
Even to a mere 16 year old teenager, this book was engrossing. The descriptions of the Seven Daughters of Eve were imaginative, and every line was mixed with humour. Even the most scientific parts of the book were very easy to understand, and even enjoyable, which not many popular science books can do. Sykes has a gift of explaining complex notions clearly, and for that alone, he deserves the five stars.

But what is most absorbing about this book is the whole idea of all of us being related to one another. It was definitely an eye opener and made me look at everyone else in the world differently - almost as if I am seeing my brothers and sisters around every corner! The enduring capacity of mitochondrial DNA, and the fact that it stays pure for centuries, was also a gripping concept - and made me realise the power of DNA and our genes.

A must read for anyone who is fascinated by genetics. It even made me consider genetics for a future degree!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written and thought provoking in many ways, 22 May 2007
By 
Tony Jones "Tony" (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Seven Daughters Of Eve (Paperback)
Having been aware of this book for a few years, I finally bought a copy to take on a train journey. Needless to say I was very pleased for a number of reasons.

Like other reviewers the sheer elegance of the central idea of being (90% likely for Europeans) descended from one of seven women is compelling. the science is built up fairly simply (I did O level biology a long time ago!) and the way the theory of mitochondrial inheritance grows from the chance experiences of the team is a good read.

The writing style is also very accessible and did not turn me off from the book at all.

I had to pause and think hard in a couple of places, and would love the opportunity to understand some of the fine detail (why did the Eve's have two daughters each still gets me thinking).

I was also surprised by the insight into academia and the in-fighting that goes in which threatened to bury theory more than once. Although only told from one side, it came across as quite scary that the rightness of the idea was less important than the reputation of others in the scientific world. I am left wondering how much good science gets discarded by the challenge of surviving the peer review process and the personalities therein. On the other hand one could argue that anything that becomes accepted science has been well challenged and stands up to scrutiny so is better.

Anyway, if you ever wondered about where your mother's mother's mother's.....mother came from, read this book!
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For a book about genetics it's a real page turner!, 22 Aug. 2003
By 
Anna Quay (Middle of England) - See all my reviews
The blurb goes on about it being passionate and bubbly and whatever, but don't be put off.. it really is good! It's a rare example of a science book which is hard to put down in the way a 'good read' should be, but is more informative than many pop science books come near.
In brief the book covers what he looked for (identifiable patterns in mitochondrial DNA); what he found (they exist, and are special because they only pass from mother to child); and what that means (he could prove not only that we're all related but how, when and where). He talks about his excitement at the 'we're all related' factor, and although I started out cynical, or rather apathetic, I was excited too by the end of the book. If you're a 'Helena', then you descend from the same great.... grandmother as anyone else with that marker, which could be your bloke, your dad (as well as your mum), your girlfriend, the bloke selling the big issue on the corner, the confused-looking people on the telly in some Baghdad hospital... when you start thinking about the implications, it gives you a rather funny feeling, and that is what Sykes says is the whole point of the work he does.
And even if fluffy we-are-all-one feelings are not for you, I bet you'd be fascinated by the information the book contains!
Oh - and as a painless primer in pre-history it's not half bad either.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Seven Daughters of Eve, 22 July 2011
By 
This review is from: The Seven Daughters Of Eve (Paperback)
This book was recommended to me during a discussion about feeling more comfortable among some groups of people rather than others. I really enjoyed it, it is all about the scientific experiments that discovered Mitochondrial D.N.A. It is really easy to read and is more like a novel than a scientific product, it is also quite amusing to read of the rivalry of the different groups of scientists. It explains that we have all descended from seven distinct women, who lived in the thousands of years since the last ice age, and they can tell this by our Mitochondrial D.N.A which is only passed mother to daughter. In saying that, it means that we are possibly more comfortable with those people who come from the same group as ourselves, and as there are apparently only seven groups we have a lot of relatives.The book explains how one of the study group had the same D.N.A as a prehistoric man found in Cheddar Gorge, and how the D.N.A was extracted from those prehistoric bones. Bryan Sykes writes very enthusiastically and I have re-read this book several times.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable read, 20 Dec. 2001
By A Customer
Having gone through a list of Cavalli Sforza, Jared Diamond and Dawkins I stumbled across this book. I have to say that it was a really enjoyable read and something that for the most part held me to the end.
What I found too simplistic were the life stories of the seven daughters of Eve. What could have made this even more interesting would have been if he could have added the "daughters of Eve" from other continents. Admittedly he does have a genealogical tree depicting human history back to our African origins. Certainly a book to recommend to anyone.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful tale of discoveries in mitochondrial DNA, 12 July 2001
Many people think science is boring. This book could change their minds. It explains the difficult concept of mitochondrial DNA which is passed only from mother to child. From investigation of the death of the last Tsar we are taken through the unravelling of the tangled history of man in Europe. The only part I did not like was the fanciful descriptions of the lives of the seven women who have given rise to most of the people on Earth. It reads like a novel, I couldn't put it down!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Changing the way we think about the past, 14 Jun. 2001
By A Customer
The Seven Daughters of Eve is going to change the way we think about European pre-histroy for ever. Sykes has shown how hard science can be used to deflate deeply cherished, often racist, theories of the development of human societies that have been built confidently upon the shaky foundations of fragmentary archaelogical and cultural data. In this rompingly good read, he puts a personal touch to a body of mooecular research that, in its own way, may prove as big a step forward in the study of pre-history as the 14C revolution was for the dating of archaeo-biological samples. Highly recommended for anyone interested in where they come from.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars fascinating but dumbed-down, 15 Jun. 2001
By 
M. S. Butch (Katonah, New York USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
The ideas discussed in this book are utterly fascinating, and I understand well that, because of their technical nature, Prof. Sykes must simplify and exclude in order to communicate to a lay audience. I think, however, that he went too far. In particular, the imagined "biographies" of the seven "eves" seemed to me to be so childish as to be condescending. I am not a scientist, but I am interested in science, or I would not be reading this book, and not condescended to. My other criticism is that there are no footnotes, and no bibliography. While the technical papers would certainly be beyond me, some readers might be able to read them, and there should at least be citations to books that might be interesting to the reader on related subjects. As an example I would look to the book "Genome" which, although written for the lay person, furnished all the backup and subject matter reading one could ask for. So why four stars? Well, the theme is irresistible, and treated as if it were a newspaper article, the storytelling is good. This alone makes the book worth reading. It fires the imagination. I do not have the background to poke holes, if they are there, in the science, but I look forward to reading about further scientific developments.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An education, 22 Dec. 2013
By 
This review is from: The Seven Daughters Of Eve (Paperback)
I found this book compelling, fascinating, an enjoyable read and an education in itself. What is wonderful about this book is that Bryan Sykes explains and teaches us about DNA and his own research and conclusions into mitochondria and the origins of humankind and it's ancestry through DNA research in way those of us without science degrees can understand.

It is a narrative of our common heritage and our shared forebears. The author explains to us in a way that is easy to understand what is DNA and what it is does. How we can trace common ancestry to people in other parts of the world, and his theory that all indigenous Europeans are descended from seven common female ancestors who he refers to as 'the seven daughters of Eve'

His research gives us much genuine food for though, he remarks how in centuries past , how many women who were made to suffer for not producing male heirs would have loved to know that the truth is only the male sperm cells that determine whether the child conceived will be a male or female. It is the Y chromosome that makes a child a male, without which the child will be a female.

He draws us to the interesting fact that one in every 20 000 female children have a Y chromosome, and these girls look normal and have normal intelligence, though the tend to be a little taller than average. but when they reach puberty their uterus and ovaries do not develop properly and they do not produce children.

Sykes uses mitochondrial DNA evidence from the remains of the Romanov Russian imperial family to cast serious doubt on the theory that when Tsar Nicholas II and his family were murdered by the Bolsheviks in 1918, one or two of his daughters survived. According to Sykes DNA proves all of the Tsar's children were murdered.

He also proves that almost of Native Europeans are descended from Paleolithic hunter-gatherers who were in Europe 50 000 years ago and not as some theorists have told us from Neolithic farmers who migrated to Europe some 10 000 years ago, and diluted the European gene pool-they did not.

The last part of the books gives seven semi-fictional stories of the seven matriarchal ancestress of modern indigenous Europeans.
These were real people with almost identical DNA to their modern descendants but living in very different circumstances to them.
Ursula , Xenia , Helena, Velda, Tara, Katrine and Jasmine.
In this field of DNA and history I would also reccomend the work by Rabbi Yakkov Kleiman 'DNA and Tradition: The Genetic Link to the Ancient Hebrews
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Falls between two stools, 31 July 2002
By A Customer
On the whole an entertaining account of how mitochondrial DNA has contributed to our understanding of human origins and dispersion. But the author is unclear as to whether he is writing the tale of what the DNA reveals about our past or an account of his own discoveries. There's a lot of dispensable stuff about research grants and conferences and way too much score settling with colleagues and rivals. Given that the he book is about the age and distribution of European population there should me more detail (and maps!) of how this works out and how it tallies with the archaeological record. Instead the book peters out into a series of nauseatingly winsome fictionalised accounts of the "daughters" lives which really don't belong in this book at all.
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The Seven Daughters Of Eve
The Seven Daughters Of Eve by Bryan Sykes (Paperback - 1 Sept. 2004)
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