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on 25 November 2014
I thought there would be more genetics in it, but the female and male lineages were fairly well explained-some clear diagrams and maps would have helped hugely. The iron age and medieval history was refreshingly accurate, and the 'celtic' linguistics were dealt with in an appropriate curtness that i particularly enjoyed. However, as the genetic evidence goes back to an entirely different era-the mesolithic, i would have expected a closer attempt to relate it to migrations of that period, that were barely touched on. There were no links to the bronze age trade, which may explain the results for Wales. I spent more time looking at the data in the appendix than reading the book. It's always good to find typos; makes me feel better about my own proofreading. The website link was not more data details, but an invitation to buy stuff. All in all though a book in keeping with the zeitgeist of the times, that the 10000 years before the Romans invaded these shores were more important, genetically than the 2000 years after.
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on 28 October 2013
For those like me who are fascinated by the migrations of our ancestors and how this has come to make us what we are today,this book is a must. I love the way Bryan Sykes writes.While explaining something scientifically based and complex he manages to make it explicit and easy to follow and reaches his public by adding anecdotes about himself.and his style of writing is quite often amusing. I loved it and I strongly recommend it.
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on 6 March 2014
The bulk of this book is occupied with narrative summaries of the history of the constituent parts of the British Isles. The author seems almost apologetic about the scientific content of what he has to say, so the rather dull and somewhat inaccurate historical accounts get too much exposure, and the science too little. The scientific element that comes off best is the account of blood groups and their distribution throughout different regions. Some of straight historical stuff is debatable, and some clearly misunderstood. In particular it's best to be extremely wary of the stuff about "celts" - it looks as if Sykes is following one of the numerous crackpot writers on this tendentious subject, and ends up confusing himself.

Perhaps the author intended this to be a beginner's book, and I expected too much.
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on 30 August 2010
A massively intriguing book. Sykes' warm and personable style makes a challenging subject accessible to the lay reader. It brings a different dimension to history through linking what we all learnt in the classroom to the living descendents of our ancestors. Through his research some of these assumptions are supported, but there are some surprises along the way. I found myself enthralled by Sykes' findings as he described each part if his research. It made me wanting to know more.

Overall, I believe this book is about more than genetic archeology, despite the critcisms of this by previous reviewers. There are echoes of Maslow throughout. Sykes explains the tools he has developed to answer a psychological question we strive to understand in a modern, chaotic world, and one which he seems to have great empathy for..... How do we belong?
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on 28 March 2015
A wonderful book for anyone interested in human genetics. The British (English, Irish, Scottish and Welsh) ancestory seems to be much the same now as when these islands were first cut off from the Mainland of Europe when the sea level rose after the last Ice Age. People who like History will love this book as it sheds light on the period before written records. Professor Bryan Cox has also written several other books, tracing the human species back over one hundred thousand years, on every continent. All are superb. I would in particular recommend The Seven Daughters of Eve, and DNA USA.;
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on 14 December 2007
I really enjoyed this book, reading it cover to cover in a couple of days. Not having read Professor Sykes' previous book, I found Blood of the Isles adequately conveyed the scope and findings to date of the Oxford Genome Project. His writing style is involving and renders a subject which could be as dry as dust both interesting and relevant to life in Britain today.
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on 21 April 2014
This book is one that I twin with Stephen Oppenheimers "The Origins of the British", and I challenge anyone to leave either one of them out as all these books give one a better picture of the whole of the British Isles story. Bryan Sykes tell his story as he lives it and as the researcher, so it is very human and has a humorous side which is beguiling and a good ingredient to books which most people are afraid of, because of the science content. I advice you not to be put off! If you come across anything you find you cannot understand you can come back to it later. Just read the story. It is a great one and is the truth about how your ancestry was found out about in the British Isles. There are slight difference in some of the named Haplogroups which are a term which is simply a part of your and my genes; which connect you and me to other human beings in the present and the past, so that we can understand out whole story from 200,000 years ago to present.
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on 26 July 2012
A must-read for all Brits who wonder who they are and where they came from! Brian Sykes is a great writer who really inspires you to explore your genetic history. I would love to have my DNA analysed but sadly a bit pricey! I'm going to read his next book soon.
Wonderful book written by a really personable author.
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on 22 February 2015
Too elaborate and not so fluent. But maybe I was expecting too much to read about the genetic story and not about the legends involved in the history of the Isles.
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on 15 February 2014
I don't think I have ever read anything so aptly described as a pot boiler. Admittedly, there are some good anecdotes but the amount of cut and paste from the author's earlier books make for a disappointing read. The insistence of the author in avoiding anything remotely like mathematics, or come to that, scientific rigour, is an insult to all those who are more deeply interested in human genetics and genealogy. How does he think the DNA data are analysed? Without proper numeracy he is just creating new myths about the origins of people.
The idea of giving names to 'clan' progenitors, also adopted by Oppenheimer in his books, is worthless unless some description is given of the accepted nomenclature as it applies to sub-clades etc and how it relates to other conventions.
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