Read The Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey by Spencer Wells Online


Around 60,000 years ago, a man—genetically identical to us—lived in Africa. Every person alive today is descended from him. How did this real-life Adam wind up as the father of us all? What happened to the descendants of other men who lived at the same time? And why, if modern humans share a single prehistoric ancestor, do we come in so many sizes, shapes, and races?ExaminAround 60,000 years ago, a man—genetically identical to us—lived in Africa. Every person alive today is descended from him. How did this real-life Adam wind up as the father of us all? What happened to the descendants of other men who lived at the same time? And why, if modern humans share a single prehistoric ancestor, do we come in so many sizes, shapes, and races?Examining the hidden secrets of human evolution in our genetic code, Spencer Wells reveals how developments in the revolutionary science of population genetics have made it possible to create a family tree for the whole of humanity. Replete with marvelous anecdotes and remarkable information, from the truth about the real Adam and Eve to the way differing racial types emerged, The Journey of Man is an enthralling, epic tour through the history and development of early humankind....

Title : The Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey
Author :
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ISBN : 9780812971460
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 240 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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The Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey Reviews

  • L.A. Starks
    2019-06-14 11:35

    This nonfiction book from 2002 summarizes Wells' and others' research into the human path traced by Y-chromosome and mitochondrial-DNA from Africa outward. It is fascinating work for those interested in human genetics and anthropology. One highlight is that North and South America's Native Americans (First Peoples from Alaska through Canada/North America, Central America and all the way south to Tierra del Fuego in Chile/South America) appear to have originated from a group of twenty or less VERY RESILIENT Siberians crossing the land bridge into Alaska.

  • Steve Van Slyke
    2019-06-01 13:27

    This turned out to be the third volume of a "trilogy" of sorts. I had just read Last Ape Standing: The Seven-Million-Year Story of How and Why We Survived (2013) and Before the Dawn: Recovering the Lost History of Our Ancestors (2006). Naturally I was a little concerned that it might be largely redundant with all or parts of the other two, or that it might be dated, having been published in 2002.Happily it was only slightly redundant, taking different slants and emphasis on common topics. However, what Wells had to say with regard to the "Out of Africa" theory remains highly consistent with the other two more recent works. I particularly liked Wells' sections on the migrations of early North Americans from Asia.And in an early part of the book, when trying to give the reader a sense of what it must have been like for the first hominids to leave the jungles and forests, he uses second person point-of-view, which I love and have experimented with myself. YOU become the character and YOU experience the environment with all its dangers and changing characteristics. It was an all too brief section, but I loved it.After reading the book I accidentally discovered that Wells has been leading the The Genographic Project for National Geographic. This effort is a bit like crowd sourcing. Hundreds of thousands of people are submitting their DNA for genealogical research. They use both mitochondrial and Y-chromosone methods. The money you pay covers the cost of the analysis and also helps to fund the research and preserve ethinicities that are rapidly disappearing and being subsumed by the "global village." And of course, you get a fascinating report of how you came to be you and where your ancestors came from. A bit scary maybe.So, don't let the date of publication put you off. This is a great read.

  • Lisa Butterworth
    2019-06-07 09:34

    This book appealed to the geeky side of me. I really love learning about human genetics and origins, about mitochondrial eve, the mother of us all, living in africa, and trying to wrap my mind around how that could possibly be. This book was at times a little above my head, and I had to shrug and push on through, because I was too lazy to actually make myself understand it. And it wasn't as engagingly written and some of the popular science books I've read of late. He did try for the colloquial thing, but his voice was a bit more naturally on the sciencey dry side of the spectrum. but pushing through some of the heavy science details was worth it for the broad understanding and trove of interesting details there in. interestingly, the title isn't actually (mostly) a sexist mistake, turns out that most of what we know about the journey of humans out of africa are know because of studies of the Y chromosome, following a variety of different adams, from different times and places, and they successfully pass on their chromosomes and spread over the globe. Not only did this book chronicle all the various routes that humans took out of Africa as we populated the world, it also gave the history of the science, the history of each new discovery that helped anthropologists, linguists, and genetic scientists use new discoveries and technologies to tell us more about our human origins.

  • Dana
    2019-06-11 10:55

    Whole genome studies of Neanderthal DNA have revealed that non-African interbred with our hominid cousins to a small degree during the exodus from around 60,000 years ago. As a result, most non-African today is approximately two percent Neanderthal at the genetic level. Sub-Saharan Africans, whose ancestors never would have encountered the Neanderthals, carry no Neanderthal DNA in their genomes. The spread of agriculture during and the spread of empires during the Bronze Age have radically sculptured regional genetic variation. Waves of migrants appear to have washed over previous inhabitants.As simply evolution means a change in the genetic composition of a species over time. If we need to check between two species , if they belong to the same speice. We need to check the genes. If the genes are the same then the two species belong to the same spiece and they do can reproduce with each other.   How genes in a population behave over time is fairly complecated. And why they couldn't develop it. It is because of their lifestyleFirst force : mutations. Without them we won't have polymorphism. They accrue randomly during the cell divisions, and give arise as a copying mistakes during the process if cells division. Second force: natural selection, if we didn't have it we would look like our unsophasticated ape-like ancestors. Third force: genetic drift. The tendency of small changes The molecules is the document of evolutionary historyA: adenineC: cytosineG:guanine T: thymineDNA has a negative chargeThe oldest splits in the ancestory of the Y chromosome occurred in Africa.the root of the male and female tree occurred IN Africa.The man from whom all men alive today they share their Y chromosome with. Lived 59.000 years ago. More than 80.000 years after that estimated for Eve.Did Adam amd Eve never meet?That means men simply lose their recipes more quickly than women That and too that there were no modern human living outside of Africa 60.000 years ago.Apes appeared in the fossil record 23. Million years ago. If Ape appeared on new year eve .then our first huminid ancestor walked up right. The first ape man would appear around the end of Oct. Homo Erectus who left Africa around 2 million years ago  would appear at the beginning of Dec.  Modern humans wouldn't show up until around 28 Dec.and they would not leave Africa till new year eve While all African population contains  deeper evolutionary lineages than those found outside thr continent. Some population retain traces of very ancient lineages .these groups are found today in Ethiopia,  Sudan and parts of eastern and southern Africa. Australia the subcontinent. The luck of mammals there allowed other species to evolve. Human Sapiens are the first primates to live in thus land. There were no apes,  no monkeys, ni chimpanzee. Human must arrived some how using a way to cross the oceanWhat prevented apes from developing and evaluation is the limited short term- memory . We gave up our life on trees . As we developed walking upright before developing our brains. Even our brains started changing in shape and size after walking upright. Climate change was the main reason for our upright walk. The draught that caused by less rainforest in Africa caused the disappearing of the Mediterranean. Some of the trees have been moved to the edge of the forest , kept feeding in fruits like chimpanzee. .... the others who moved to the savannah, became hunters. Because plants and insists don't provide enough nutrition only. Mammals need high calories dietWe as human are biologically adapted to adapt. We have only our mind and our adaptation comparing with the animals C-14:C-12 till 45.000 years ago. Before that Potassiume-40 K-40 and Uranium- 23Thankfully the Eurasian Eve lived around 50.000 -60.000 years ago, suggesting that she and Eurasian Adam could have met. No fossils, no evidence for Homo Erectus did not make it across the long stretch of Open Ocean to Australia. Homo Sapiens might caused a genocide to Homo Erectus and were number one reason to extinct themAgreculture spread in the world new immigration Neolithic immigration from middle east to Europe Rice agriculture started in China 5.000 years agoThe skeleton remain from the ...... agriculture community suggest that early agriculturalist may actually have had shorter lifespan than their hunter-gatherer neighbours.  It is though to due largely to an increase in disease  Cro-magnons arrived to europe from warmer places.they have different body shape than the neanderthal. they are taller (180)c.m. with taller limbs. the neanderthal are shorter(165)c.m with more musculaire body shape. neanderthal were not so fourtune to live with their grandparents. they could not have thie extra support qnd passing tje knowledge from olderly people the climate change opened a new window to asian people. it was easy for them to adapt

  • Giovanni
    2019-06-10 12:33

    Fascinating. Best part for me was tracing of genetic markers and connecting it with linguistic theory.

  • keith koenigsberg
    2019-05-21 14:26

    So bad, for so many reasons. This book contains so many passages dealing with migrations, invasions, and movements of populations, and so much information on genetics markers, that a few good maps and diagrams would have been helpful. But I count about 5 maps and diagrams total, in the entire book. And what maps exist are a practical joke. Like 10th generation black and white copies. Unreadable. Honestly, go to a book store and open the book to page 182 and check out the black and white copy of a map they used. Can you read any of the smudgy text? This book made me *angry*, like a practical joke at my expense. There are other things wrong with this book (the crappiness of the Index is one, the broad and useless metaphors are another. And hey here's another, Wells doesn't know how to keep it at any one given level; the majority of the book is written at a tabloid intelligence level, dumbing down the details and making broad generalizations and metaphors, as if writing in USA Today or The Post. But interspersed, now and then he throws in jargon, as if we are reading at a grad school level. Very annoying.). But based just on the bad maps and diagrams alone, a very disappointing book. I want my money back.My theory? He had a very successful tv show and put this book together hastily, as a followup.

  • Eliza
    2019-05-20 09:47

    Spencer Wells traces the migrations of humankind from our original life in Africa through our eventual diffusion throughout the world. With genetics of the male Y-chromosome, & the accrued differences of isolated populations over time, the pattern of when human populations diverged from each other can be deciphered.The most interesting part was when the book tied together culture and its genetic markers. Scientists can trace the spread of agriculture, language, and even the specific gender roles of humans their their genetic lines. Throughout history we have been a male-dominated species; we have largely been patrilocal, meaning that men tend to stay local w/ their land & power, while women travel to them bc in many societies in the past they have had no wealth of their own. This has been supported w/ genetic evidence comparing male & female genetic lines, showing that men have more homogeneous DNA within a region than females do.Although much of the book is rather bland, just listing of the endless genetic markers that become hard to keep track of as they add up, the work put forward linking culture & genetics was fascinating and made the book worth reading.

  • Avrel Seale
    2019-05-31 07:46

    I interviewed Wells for an issue of The Alcalde, the University of Texas alumni magazine. He is a geneticist who, with his colleagues, has circled the globe taking blood samples and establishing that all humans descended from a single man, who lived about 60,000 years ago in east Africa. Completely fascinating subject matter and entertainingly written.

  • J.D. Camorlinga
    2019-06-16 06:33

    The Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey, by Spencer Wells. New York: Random House Trade paperbacks, 2003. 218 pages. The Journey of Man was written by Spencer Wells, a geneticist with a PhD in Biology from Harvard University. Wells wrote this book in conjunction with a documentary by the same title as part of the Genographic Project. The Genographic Project – headed by Wells and funded by National Geographic and IBM – is focused on mapping the geographic migration of mankind through history. Wells states that The Journey of Man is a “detective story” following human migration out of Africa to all the corners of the world. The goals of the book are to test the validity of the concept of human race and then explain how humans came to occupy the globe. Wells is the director of the Genographic Project, and his mission is directly reflected by his book. It is evident that Wells is an adherent to the Out-of-Africa model and uses all his data to support it. The Journey of Man is broken into nine easy to read chapters which make use of some helpful graphics and many analogies. Wells starts out by discussing the diversity and ultimate unity of mankind as one species. While Wells uses genetics to discuss human migration, he specifically focuses on Y-chromosomal DNA to trace the migration of mankind back through history to one man, Y-chromosomal Adam. By following Y-chromosomal DNA, Wells makes a case for the Out-of-Africa model and describes the waves of migrations as Homo sapiens sapiens spread from Africa into Asia and the Middle East, and then across the globe. He spends some time explaining how culture, politics, technology and language all played a role in the “big bang” of human history as mankind spread rapidly over the earth. The Journey of Man ends with the author lamenting the genetic mixing within the global melting pot, the loss of linguistic diversity and the urbanization of village culture. He views this globalization as creating a rapidly shrinking window of opportunity for geneticists to discover our history before it is lost forever. This is an interestingly pessimistic stance for a genetic researcher to take as he seems to lack confidence in new discovery. After all, one would not have to look very far into the past to find a time in which there was no hope that DNA analysis could be used to follow migration, let alone to study the fossil record. The book’s major strength was the straightforward method Wells uses to follow the thread of human migration. Since he primarily discusses Y-chromosomal DNA, he enables the reader to become familiar with the topic and engage in the material. The linear way in which it is written also helps achieve reader familiarity. Wells could spend some more time developing the topics within the book since at times he waters down the material so much that it becomes difficult to take him seriously. The weakest area of discourse in The Journey of Man is found early on in the text when Wells discusses the relative age of Y-Chromosomal Adam to mtDNA Eve. He states that Adam lived 59,000 years ago while Eve lived more than 80,000 years ago (54). Instead of expounding on this difference in dates, Wells passes this “fairly complicated” issue off as “probably the results of thousands of years of sexual politics,” and concluding that “Men simply lose their soup recopies quicker than women.” In other scholarly work, this difference in dating is often explained as a result of a genetic bottleneck due to some near extinction event. Wells is likely aware of this fact and may avoid the explanation because Creationists can point to it as evidence of the biblical Flood account. Wells has a small section on language extinction and some very interesting things to say about the evolution of language over time. He briefly discusses the theory that all languages may have come from one original language and how linguistic anthropology can use this to track migration. More time could have been spent developing this a bit more, but the brevity can be forgiven because linguistics is not closely tied to his study of genetics. The biggest problem I had with the book was more of a personal issue. Wells states in his preface that “this is not a book on human origins,” explaining that he is only concerned about historical migration. However Wells makes it abundantly clear that he is an evolutionist and within two words of the first chapter has discounted the creation account as a myth. On the whole, Wells does a good job of laying out his evidence for the Out-of-Africa model and fully supports his thesis. People who are interested in a different method of studying human history would enjoy this book. “Excavating” the history found in the human genome provides a fresh look at this area of study which “bones and stones” tend to make dreary and mysterious. Wells has successfully made genetic research understandable, and more accessible to those not entirely familiar with it. The Journey of Man is written in a down-to-earth tone that frequently borders on the informal. At times, I found his analogies about soup to be somewhat unhelpful and a bit condescending, and the visual aids could have been developed further or at least given to a professional artist to redesign. Overall, I would recommend this book as an entry level text into the world of molecular anthropology. Since the book was written in 2002, there is likely material found therein that is outdated; a possibility readers should take into account. Evolutionists will find this to be a fairly straightforward treatise of the Out-of-Africa model as supported through genetics. Evolutionist proponents of multiregionalism may not enjoy this book as it provides strong evidence against this theory. Additionally, I would strongly encourage Creationist readers to take a deeper look at the material in this book as it lends some direct support to their worldview as well, even if it is not implicitly intended to.

  • Radhika
    2019-05-17 07:44

    Unlike most books which precede the movie, this one followed the PBS documentary made by Spencer Wells for National Geographic. That was a FABULOUS documentary. I expected the book to follow the documentary closely but provide more scientific details. The book is quite independent and it took me a while to figure this out and resulted in some disappointment. The book doesn't contain too much of the science of the Y-chrom genetics and it tends to jump around chronologically making following the story a bit difficult. It does have the most beautiful photographs however. I told this to the friend who lent me the book and they have now given me Deep Ancestry to read. This is Spencer Wells' second book and it is supposed to delve more into the science.

  • Mike Lund
    2019-05-29 11:50

    Worth the Effort But Tedious. Well written. Presents the evolution of modern man by following the DNA history of the Y Chromosome (man vs women's DNA). Interesting. Worth the read. Aimed at the Lay reader. I am glad I read the book. But also a bit tedious and required some effort to stay connected. I am left with a general feeling about the topic but couldn't carry on a conversation about it. Starting with the DNA Adam (M168 chromosome), then moving on to the next DNA branch (M130 and M89). Eventually its the story of how man exited Africa and populated the world by following the sequence of the DNA chromosomes. Apparently a companion book to a TV documentary. I thought a simple Time Line in Chapter 1, showing things like Upper/Middle Palaeolthic periods, Neanderthals, Homo Sapiens, Homo Erectus etc would have been helpful to me to visualize the different points in time.

  • Claudia
    2019-05-26 13:48

    An excellent book on the how scientists can assemble information on the very early migration of homo sapiens from Africa to the rest of the world. Using genetic markers and cultural traits(tool making, art, agriculture for example.) they can trace the origin of our original ancestors. Some of the findings are outdated, but I don't believe the ideas are. Methodology has, of course, improved since the book was published. He is very good at explaining complex ideas such as genetic drift using simple metaphors.

  • Chris Miller
    2019-05-17 11:30

    This book needed more in the form of diagrams (quality as well as quantity). This also felt like another pop-science book written by a scientist who isn't also a "writer." Some of his analogies were laughably bad and misleading to the point where I feel like they confused more than clarified.All in all, I really enjoyed this book, which is more a testament to my interest in the subject than the execution of the author. I knew a lot of the basics that were covered, but the details I didn't already know were fascinating.

  • Dan
    2019-06-16 10:26

    Fascinating and accessible read for anyone interested in early human migrations and prehistory. My one hesitation is that some details (like Neanderthal admixture) have been contradicted by more recent analysis since 2002 (confirmed by the author's later commentary). Overall, this is an excellent, clear, and succinct discussion of the topic, and I would definitely recommend it.

  • Eric
    2019-05-23 12:31

    Really interesting examination of the Y-chromosome lineage, whose variances give a picture of human migration with finer resolution than that of mitochondrial DNA. Plenty of details and explanations without resorting to technical jargon.

  • Katriena Knights
    2019-05-26 12:37

    Fascinating but really could have used some visual aids.

  • JA
    2019-06-03 10:31

    Basic intro. Suffers from the expected bits of moralizing. Strongest in the discussion of M130 and coastal migration. This is better researched and written than similar books on the same topic. I wish he would have gone into depth on his specialty - Central Asia.

  • Tim
    2019-06-13 07:31

    A reasonable story of y-DNA: how it is used to map human migration and migrations deduced from DNA studies. It is somewhat dated but contains some data essential to the general understanding of this topic.

  • Stephanie J.
    2019-06-05 10:44

    Review @ www.LitLoversLane.comI have known of National Geographic’s genome project for years, so when I learned of this companion book, I bought it immediately. Working my way through the first few pages, I got a bit alarmed. Just between us, I all but royally flunked every science class I ever took from Grade 3 onward, and this book was giving me that familiar brain-dead feeling I always got in science class. Still, I was determined to slug my way through, and very soon, something almost miraculous happened. Spencer Wells was taking me back in time to the dawn of man using science, and I was hooked like a fish on bait. When I finished The Journey of Man, three overall impression stayed with me.If you are a history fanatic, like me, this book is a must-read. In a very methodical way, Spencer lays out the work of anthropological scientists before him, highlighting the important discoveries regarding man’s origins and way of life. Then, he lays out his own work using DNA samples of men the world over to determine where man began and how, when, and why the four corners of the earth became populated. His work takes the reader hurtling back through time to that first African man who father all humanity 60,000 years ago, showing us where all humans surely came from and how they lived. Then, in a clear methodical way, Spencer charts our journey out of Africa, making educated guesses on the possible reasons for the exodus, the means used, and the destinations. All the while, he employs DNA markers to link us, to distinguish us, and to chart each ethnic/racial group’s particular journey. The ride is simply fascinating.To be sure, the work is peppered with scientific data, which was sometimes off-putting for me. Still, Spencer uses many analogies to make the science more accessible to lay people. For instance, at one point, he explains how modern man’s looks changed from the looks of the first man by using a soup analogy. In the beginning, there is one soup recipe, and everyone makes it the same way. Then, a woman marries and moves away to her husband’s town. She cannot make soup the same way because some ingredients are unavailable, so the soup is slightly altered. Her sister also moves. She does have the ingredients for the original soup, but her husband is used to a certain spice, so she adds it. Thus, the soup changes through the generations, but there is still a link among the soups and back to the original soup. The same goes for man. This helpful explanation is just one of many the author uses to promote understanding, which I really appreciated. Also, the truth is that one can always do as I did when some of the scientific data got too tough or boring (both in school and this book)…skip it. :)The last impression I took away from the book doesn't really pertain to it per se, but to education. Somewhere while reading, it struck me that if the boring science I’d sat through in school had been linked to such fascinating real-life applications and implications, I and many more students might have pursued scientific careers. Okay, that’s a downright lie. NOTHING on God’s green earth could have lassoed me into science. Nonetheless, the U.S. needs scientists, and fewer and fewer students study it, so we need to find ways to engage and capture those students who have an aptitude for it. Spencer’s work and more works like it which allow children to see how science can lead them to ideas/topics that DO interest them is a piece of this puzzle. Developing science programs that show children what fascinating things science can show us (even if the process itself is not fascinating) should be our goal.In the end, I so thoroughly enjoyed this book and appreciated the mountain of work that went into it that it is definitely worth the highest rating possible.

  • Basel Shaaban
    2019-05-29 10:38

    Although I do believe that books don't suit to the modern science, I loved this book. The writer tried to summarize the modern population genetics evidences of man journey from Africa to the whole world.I recommend this book to people who have no Idea about the Evolution and population genetics but still want to know, Scientifically, who they are.

  • Tim
    2019-05-22 09:37

    Unfortunately The Journey of Man just isn't a very interesting read. Wells can't quite make up his mind whether he's writing a pop-science book or a university text, and it doesn't seem to me like it would satisfy either.Occasionally it sparks into life, and the fascinating tale of humanity's journey from the Rift Valley to the four corners of the world really takes off. This is particularly so when Wells ties in the stories to his own wide experiences, such as his research in central Asia. It fails when this narrative drops into a school child's summer holiday recollection of genetic events; first M107 went to the Middle East then Y069 went along the coast to India then M25 went to China... yawn.On top of all this, for a book that is marketed as pop-science, it often becomes a long list of technical incomprehensible terminology, like reading an engineers diary. "...adenine always pairs with thymine, and cytosine always pairs with guanine..."And then he reaches for the other extreme, and attempts to explain complex theories with banal and patronising sentences like this:"Our rare mitochondrial cluster is given the name M - like the head of M16 in James Bond movies. In biblical terms, Eve begat L3 and L3 begat M."Overall a disappointing, and surprisingly brief, read that at least had a few moments of brilliance. But Wells clearly isn't a writer, and it feels like his occasional forays into gripping prose are more by accident than design.

  • Ollie
    2019-05-18 07:42

    In The Journey of Man, Wells uses genetic testing to decipher the origin of human beings and their journey when, starting from Africa, they populated the earth. As it turns out, it all has to do with single mutations that occur in our DNA. Looking at these single mutations, we can group individuals from different populations together and find the common denominator that unites everyone. Luckily, Wells keeps the genetic jargon to a minimum and uses only the most important single mutations in each populations to make his points, and with that creates a phylogenetic tree that's pretty easy to follow. Even though I'm a "geneticist," I will admit that his soup analogy really helped clear things up. So, props on being able to explain things and make me hungry at the same time.The problem with Journey of Man is when Wells dwells to long on a genetic mutation and follows a population's journey too closely (it gets boring), or his chapter on the connection between language and polymorphisms - a concept that is interesting but could have been delivered more effectively ("sometimes they are connected, sometimes they are not").Either way, this is a great and enlightening read for anyone who wants a concrete answer for the question, "where did we come from?"3.5 stars.

  • Bob Nichols
    2019-05-18 09:34

    Wells tells a better story about human migration out of African in this book than he does in his Deep Ancestry (2006). In Journey, the primary focus is on the migration of the male line by tracing the YDNA. Wells groups the various lines by “M,” followed by a number, which stands for the relevant genetic marker that defines specific migration lines. The numerical designations fall into main groupings (I don’t believe he uses the term “haplogroup” in this book) that then have, sequentially, subgroups. Thus, for example, the M173 line in Europe and the M17 line in northern India came from the earlier M45 line in central Asia, which in turn comes from M168, “the Eurasian Adam” that was the first line out of Africa. Wells supplements this genetic-based information with blood and linguistic lines, which generally match up with what Wells finds with his various M groupings.Wells states that the reasons for genetic changes are mutation, natural selection and genetic drift. Does sexual selection also play a role? Wells states that modern man and the Neanderthals “represent a separate species.” The genetic data,” he says, “is incontrovertible….” I believe that evidence now suggests there was interbreeding and that many humans today carry 1-4% Neanderthal genes.

  • Rachel S
    2019-06-03 09:46

    This book was really interesting, despite some difficult sections written in scientific jargon (I must admit, I skimmed those parts). I really loved the anthropological, cultural, linguistic parts of the book. I couldn't help looking around at people in Chicago as I rode public transportation and read this book, thinking, "Look at all these 'intelligent' apes. Thousands of years of evolution. For this. Hmmmmmmmmmm." Edit 1/1/2014I originally gave this four stars, but knocking it down to three because it was published in 2004, ten years ago at this point, and the science has already become pretty dated. Since the field is changing so quickly, it makes this book somewhat irrelevant or maybe just incomplete. A story broke this year about how scientists have discovered a mysterious a new group of ancient humans in southern Siberia by sequencing DNA from a tiny bone chip. There was feature article in National Geographic about it: think I'll stick to reading articles like this and wait another twenty years or so until I read another book like this one.

  • Tim Weakley
    2019-06-03 12:31

    I said I would not get into a rut with this kind of reading material not that I wouldn’t read it at all! Anyway this one is a classic in the field at this point. Written by one of the key figures in the field of Genetic Anthropology and an Explorer in residence of the National Geographic Society, it offers a key viewpoint on this area written by one of the scientists that is currently defining the field. It is a history of all of us, if you agree with the premise of the scientific descent of man. Wells’ tracing of the tiny and timely genetic mutations on the human Y chromosome make for a story of broad stokes which illustrate how we ended up with the varied groups of people we have today. From the movement of ancient peoples out of Africa and along the coastline of India into Australia, to the travels of other groups through the middle east and finally into Europe we are taken along on the journey. Though a bit dated now in field that is constantly changing the underlying ideas have not changed in their fundamental basis. This book is a must for anyone interested in the ultimate history of Man.

  • Alton Chaney
    2019-05-17 10:28

    A great read that details not only the journey of mankind out of Africa, but the process in which researchers and scientists were able to piece the parts of our full history together. Spencer starts off the book with a great overview of the centuries worth of progress scientists had to make to get to the point where we knew how this journey took place, and the ease in which this history is presented almost left me with a desire to read further about the research rather than the actual results themselves. The journey itself though is filled with such fascination that at times much of it feels implausible, and its alignment with mankind's own creation myth's was particularly interesting (yes, there was in fact a single Eve and a single Adam, albeit living hundreds of thousands of years apart). I would put this as the best starting place in learning about our history and origins as a species.

  • David Rubin
    2019-05-22 10:31

    This is a book about mankind's greatest journey: the evolution of mankind and the spread of our species around the globe. The story is as much about the micro-geography of the odyssey, mitochondrial DNA and the y-chromosome, as about the historical and physical movements of bands of hunters and agriculturists who populated the world thousands of years ago. We all know the end of the story -- where we are today -- the tales of how we got here is where the excitement lies.Corroborating evidence for the biology comes from the study of our languages, their similarities and differences, and especially their evolution.The book was written in 2002 and undoubtedly there will be much more written on the subject, but Spencer Wells, the author, presents us laypersons a clear and readable understanding of the subject matter, and a hunger for more data as it emerges.

  • Greg
    2019-06-15 10:46

    if i were in a book club with my wife, which i was, this would be one of her choices, which it was (factchecker note: i may be taking slight poetic license), which i'd be interested in though less in my sight line, wasn't such a biology guy. nice how you can have suggested interests from another and open your eyes to appreciate things, like chlorophyll wow (you mean borophyll?) or evolutionary genetics dna, something we have interesting experience with though it can be a little biologically scientific or rough and tumble in juxtaposition to other kinds of love and interest stuff (my turn to pick! you'll love it! though there may be conscious foiling). maybe i'll read it again with better awareness, don't be mean, mind and matter, love stories, hey cutie, i love you but you don't know what you're talking about...

  • James Hollomon
    2019-06-15 14:40

    Spencer Wells is an expert on genetics and its application toward tracing human migrations from the time we first journeyed out of Africa till we colonized the entire Earth. He brings to the task knowledge of his own research plus that of other geneticists. He couples this with the things anthropologists, linguists and other researchers can tell us to provide his readers the most accurate picture he can draw of where our ancestors came from, and how they got to the places they now inhabit. Perhaps the most amazing thing about his writing is that he manages to make such a complex study accessible to readers like me, who has no formal background as a historian, anthropologist or geneticists. It's not light reading, but if mankind's history and migrations interest you, it's a delight to read.

  • Shalon Montgomery
    2019-06-02 07:27

    Genetic Odyssey is a well written book. Due to life I wasn't able to read this book in short time but every time I picked it back up my intrigue picked up where it left off. This book answers any questions the average person would have on the spread of humanity. My only jab at this book is on several occasion it simply reenlightens, which is no fault of the author. I debated whether this was a four or five star book but my small compliant isn't a serious flaw, because you will enjoy the way it reenlightens. Spencer Wells ability to explain and entertain is right up there with Edward O. Wilson.If you are searching for your next captivating read visit my website, I am an author looking for an audience.