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56 of 57 people found the following review helpful
HALL OF FAMEon 17 September 2007
The human diaspora from Africa that populated the world has been the subject of several recent studies. At first, these books were bulwarks against the tide of "Multi-regionalism" - the idea that an early version of our ancestral species evolved into Homo sapiens at different times and places. Genetic research, including that of the author, has shown that we're all descended from a small African population. Placing our origins on one continent simplifies the task of analysis of tracking our movements. In this book, Wells explains how the examination works and what it reveals of our ancestry.

The tool is "markers" on the genome. For females it was the DNA in mitochondria, the cell's "powerhouse". For males, it is changes on the Y chromosome, that molecular structure triggering a shift from the default embryo condition. The author demonstrates how these indicators are detected and how they allow us to track our ancestry back in time. The markers designate genetic "borders" between groups of people who share a common ancestor in the deep past. The groups are called "haplotypes" - for which Wells, at least in the case of Europe, uses the term "clan". There are seven of these clans - designated by letter labels such as "R", "J" or "N" - descended from male originators. The approach is reminiscent of Bryan Sykes "Seven Daughters of Eve" [2001], except Wells follows the male lineage where Sykes used mitochondrial DNA to source female origins. Both authors focus on the European records as being more complete and readily available. Wells also finds but five female lines as opposed to Sykes' seven.

Wells discusses how genetic "clocks" can postulate a rate of mutation over a long span of time to roughly determine the age of the haplogroup. Much of this assessment is sustained by archaeological record. The procedures pinpoint his own grandmother's ancestry, which is ostensibly Danish, to origins in the Middle East, some ten thousand years ago at the beginning of the adoption of agriculture. The shift to the Middle East leads Wells to examine people living today with roots in far corners of the world. One notable example is "Phil", whose Native American background becomes the start of a study of Siberian people. There have been many disputes about the origins of the Western Hemisphere's human settlers. Wells travelled to the Asian North to recover genetic data. The information clearly defines the link between Indian populations here and their ancestry in Eastern Asia.

Wells puts some effort into explaining how DNA works, what counts as a "mutation" and how these changes can be tracked down the generations. With enough samples from living populations in historically stable circumstances, he can provide maps of the distribution of the haplogroups and frequency of the haplotype in a given area. Ireland, for example, is populated almost exclusively by a single haplotype. He explains that The Genographic Project he heads is keen to collect more data, both to refine the European and Native American data, but to enlarge the information from other parts of the world. Clearly, this is a book "in progress", but stands firmly as a good basis for understanding the foundations of such research and its enlargement of knowledge of humanity. Although he states this book is "less technical" than his "The Journey of Man", there is sufficient information on how the data collection and analysis is undertaken to make the book readable and interesting to everybody. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 15 July 2008
This book is perfect for anyone interested in genetics and the origin of humans. It explains all terminolgy simply then expands upon it thus even if you have little or no knowledge of genetics or biology you can read and enjoy it.

The book while concentrating on the scientific information gathered by the project also explores the personnal discoveries individuals have made by entering the project and the subsequent DNA analysis, making it far more interesting a text than ones which consist of only science.

The author's enthusiasm for the project leaps off the page. I read this book in 24 hours and absolutely couldn't put it down. Would highly recommend to anyone.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 29 December 2009
If there ever was one single book to read that sets out our origins - then this has to be it. The book is welll written and sets out the arguments with a great deal of clarity. A must read for those that still believe in racial superriorityand hopefully they will learn a few things and realise colour is truly skin deep. A good book for me is one that raises more questions, makes me think and sets me on a further learning journey. This book did all of that.

Krishna Sarda
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on 10 February 2014
Both these books go together. Indeed Depp Ancestry is a must because it caterlogues all the Haplogroups and shows how they are connected. This as a bit out of date but still an essential tome to help anyone understand better. So I have it as I read books by the wonderful Stephen Oppenheimer and Bryan Sykes as well. Thank to you all you wonderful scientists. I have not stopped studying the journey of man since I began in ernest quite a few years ago now. There is still so much to learn. Keep an open mind. Do not get angry. This is YOUR history from the deep past 20,000 to 150,000 years ago starting in Africa. Cynthia Allen McLaglen
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on 24 February 2013
It did initially give me brain ache, with all it's long and technical words. But I soon found myself totally engrossed. The way the subject matter was broken down into easy to understand every day language, using simple examples of some very technical data, made it a very interesting and enjoyable read
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 14 July 2009
An easy read, but don't expect to learn much about how the techniques of paleoancestry are performed. The same can be said about Stephen Oppenheimer's books. Please could someone write a book telling us how it is really done! I have amassed a small library of books on DNA testing; I am now familiar with the use for genetic fingerprinting, and I have a vague idea of what Oppenheimer and Wells are writing about, but I would dearly love to read a book about the techniques.Deep Ancestry: Inside the Genographic Project
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 30 October 2011
I wish I knew that the second edition was due out in November this year before I decided to buy this book. I would have waited.
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