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4.5 out of 5 stars
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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 23 October 2015
This is a readable book on a complex subject and the author is chatty and plausible. I think he may have taken things too far and I wouldn't agree with his conclusion that all people in Europe and the Near East have only 7 lines of descent.
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on 19 July 2017
Enjoyable scientific detective story - how mitochondrial DNA was isolated and used to uncover the history of European genetic history / migration.
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on 12 April 2017
Fascinating reading, especially now I know which daughter I belong to!
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on 2 September 2017
Very informative and useful as I am finding out more about my DNA
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VINE VOICEon 22 May 2007
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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on 22 August 2003
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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VINE VOICEon 26 July 2006
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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on 22 July 2011
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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on 20 December 2001
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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on 15 June 2001
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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