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A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived

The Human Story Retold Through Our Genes
Written by: Adam Rutherford
Narrated by: Adam Rutherford
Length: 12 hrs and 13 mins
4.6 out of 5 stars (70 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A National Geographic Best Book of the Year  

In our unique genomes, every one of us carries the story of our species - births, deaths, disease, war, famine, migration, and a lot of sex. 

But those stories have always been locked away - until now. 

Who are our ancestors? Where did they come from? Geneticists have suddenly become historians, and the hard evidence in our DNA has completely upended what we thought we knew about ourselves. Acclaimed science writer Adam Rutherford explains exactly how genomics is completely rewriting the human story - from 100,000 years ago to the present.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio. 

©2016 Adam Rutherford (P)2018 Tantor

What listeners say about A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived

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Very informative. I loved listening

The author took on quite a task with the book. He made the book clear and offered a lot of real-world examples I would recommend this book to any who is curious about our origins.

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Absolutely brilliant

A concise and easy to understand history of humanity in the genetic and historical sense!

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light science 'reading'

I learned many facts and too much of the author's opinions. Will look for books by other authors on the same subject.

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Wonderfully written and narrated

This is science writing at its best. The language is approachable and clear for the layman like me to follow and understand. This book held my interest from the start and I enjoyed it and learned much from it. We need more Adam Rutherfords to explain and demystify science when headlines are crowded with myths, lies and superficialities that can only lead to ignorance and know nothingness. Professor Rutherford, may we have some more, please?

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Captivating listen!

The author has written a book on a complex topic(s) and manages to make it accessible to everyone. His reading voice is superb, his findings and explanations are clear and concise. Our genes tell stories we have previously misunderstood, until Adam Rutherford explains.I look forward to future books by this author.

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A foray onto pseudoscience

Adam Rutherford here in this book has managed to bring history, genetics and overall science of existence together to form a comprehensive treatise for every reader out there irrespective of their educational backgrounds. Moreover, the rational assault brought about on pseudoscience and incorrect interpretation of facts is dealt with clinical precision . In the times of alternative facts it is refreshing to see such clean demonstration of complete reliance on scientific knowledge.

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Engrossing. Beautifully read.

An enlightening and delightful step on the road to understanding the human phenomenon. "O, what a tangled web we weave"

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  • Robert Blais
  • 2019-04-24

DETAILED BUT ENTERTAINING

This book contains far more technical data about DNA and genetics than the average person would need. However it was very enlightening for scientific, social and historical ramifications. At times the author became carried away with philosophical issues but he presented this in a very clever and sometimes comical way. I finished the book much better informed about the science of genetics then when I started this is always a good thing. Of particular note is that the author / narrator did an excellent job and added familiarity and humor that was much appreciated.

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  • DNA Diva
  • 2019-03-01

Both entertaining and informative

Adam uses wonderful analogies and has a very engaging, humorous writing (and speaking) style. As a scientist, I appreciated the details and evidence that was presented.

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  • Charles K. Ackerman
  • 2019-12-20

Sit back and listen to the sweep of human history

Rutherford does a great job of summing up the pieces of human biological history. He weaves together lots of facts and observations that add to a detailed picture of the sweep and pageantry.

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  • Elina
  • 2019-07-27

Good, interesting, could be shorter

The book is good but would have benefited from being less lengthy. Some repetitions over too many hours - 12+. Nevertheless, it offers interesting facts, ideas, and perspectives

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  • Maui Diver
  • 2019-07-05

A brilliant description of modern human genetics

There are numerous books on human genetics. This is one of the very best. Clearly written, the science well explained, examples and analogies bring the incredibly complex subject of genetics into understandable focus. The data is current and leaves an excited expectation for future developments.

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  • Wanderlusting
  • 2018-10-17

too much politics and idealistic ranting

most of the chapters are excellent however towards the second half of the book he starts getting a bit political and goes on a few rants. he also contradicts himself a couple times against things you said in the first half of the book.. lots of potential I really enjoyed the genetic milk drinking tolerance chapter and sections on Ancient DNA.

17 people found this helpful

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  • Mark Gunn
  • 2019-02-22

Content drifted away from title, but worth a read

Author was an excellent narrator and did a fabulous job of explaining some of the more complex elements of genetics. The content didn't exactly follow the scope promised in the title, with a lot of side trips into the author's opinions on commercial genetic services, scientific principles, Christianity, creationism, etc not much of which, helped advance the explanation of our genetic history and seemed more of a soapbox for the author to take a shot at things he didn't like, but despite this, I think it's worth a read.

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  • J Crothers
  • 2020-07-25

A great book

I did have to listen in small samples, but since this is not usually something I would ever buy that was ok. I heard Adam Rutherford on a podcast and he was so interesting, I decided I had to hear more. He makes his subject very accessible, and I enjoy his humor.

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  • Maestro F
  • 2020-07-23

Brilliant- a must science read

Adam Rutherford has crafted a clear, comprehensible and thoughtful description of up to date genetics research, the scientific path taken to achieve this understanding (as well as to eventually improve it) and the implications of what we have learned on human society. Books like this are essential in combatting the ill effects of pseudoscience and it’s social/political abuse (just think of Nazi eugenics- and that’s just the start of it). What make this book the best, however, are the author’s gift with language and his excellent oratory skills. He is at once personable, knowledgeable and extremely witty without being condescending or off putting in any way. Highly recommended for all thoughtful, educated people (and the rest of us who aspire to be so).

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2020-05-18

Science Fiction

He immediately dismissed intelligent design as a possible cause to human origins with zero scientific facts to back up his claim. This book is full of mantra and opinions with absolutely little truth to it. Lucy was a faked fossil specimen with Abe and human bones mixed together it has been disproven as a human ancestor. He bases his whole book on the genome but neglects to mention that horizontal gene transfer has made the tree of life the tangled tree of life. This book is garbage and one of the worst science books I have read in some time. Using DNA as your only scientific proof for the history of life is an extremely weak argument. If you look at the human dna they found more differences among a group of Apes in West Africa then all of humanity which says humans are not nearly as old as required by the evolutionary myth.