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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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Comprehensive, contemporary and high yield

Dr. Adam Rutherford provides a comprehensive and contemporary description of the origin of all humans through the study of human genetics. The information is high yield, making the book a must read for anyone interested in the most up to date information about human genetics and how they impact human health, disease, behaviour, and society. One of the best virtues of this book is that it corrects many old and contemporary beliefs about human genetics and their impacts.

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Engaging, Fascinating, Entertaining

I love popular science books. I have no science background, and this was perfect for me. It is well written, and narrated by the author (normally that would be dire, but here is an author that knows how to read his own work).

This is such an engaging read, and the author makes all the concepts totally understandable, you will be left with the impression that, albeit briefly, you totally understand the science of genetics. I enjoyed the human stories behind the science (Darwin's barnacle collection made me chuckle)

Nice to know that I am most probably descended from Royalty (but so are all of us with with European ancestors), and while racism is real, sigh, race as a genetic marker is arbitrary, And the chapter on inbreeding, wow that was so so fascinating. The PDF that accompanied the book was super useful then.

This is a Brit centric book. Googling his name I found out he does a popular BBC podcast, so will definitely be giving that a listen as well.

I thoroughly recommend this book.

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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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Absolutely brilliant

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

6 people found this helpful

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A most interesting topic

This is one of many books written with the interested non-scientist in mind. I recommend it over many others because it is clear and it stays on point.
The author will fly from the most minute, a single gene say, to all of us who breathe or who ever did or ever will breathe. And we are with him. We listen and follow and are engaged in understanding what was just said, anticipating the next story, the next shining piece of information. By the end there has been no traipsing into virtue signalling, maudlin pity for extinct beings. This book removes one’s mind from its perhaps tedious quotidien concerns into a few hours of wonder.

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TOO MUCH FOR ME

When I continually groan when I want to listen to a book and it’s still this one, I know it’s time to put it away. The author is an excellent narrator and is clearly an incredibly bright man with an expertise in this field. However from the perspective of a layperson generalist in this area, it’s just too much. I simply cannot finish this book. Although it is interesting, it has become like a long boring historical paper I feel the need to just get through. I think a four or five hour book on this topic that is more succinct would be better for the average person. I just can’t take it anymore. Sorry.

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fantastic listen

I'm so glad the author narrated this himself. Often authors don't make the greatest narrators but he is the exception. I thoroughly enjoyed the knowledge and humour found in this book and recommend it to anyone looking to expand their knowledge of human evolution.

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A Great Insight on Us the product of Evolution.

Here we are today, but who will we become? it amazes me to try to fathom why exactly why we are here. Our history of our evolution is profoundly explained here. But, too understand we evolved from a mud scipper type of fish to standing upright to making the social status (good or bad) we see today.
What a remarkable journey we've had after setting foot on the ground coming down from the tree.
Sadly though man is still the main destroyer of this planet and all who inhabit this magical blue dot!!

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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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  • 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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  • melody sheldon
  • 2019-03-31

I wish this book was in American high schools.

This book along with "Guns, Germs and Steel", would be the death of American racism.

31 people found this helpful

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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).

18 people found this helpful

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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.

9 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.

17 people found this helpful

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  • Janet
  • 2020-12-28

Fascinating and terrific fun.

I became so engrossed that I couldn't stop listening. Rutherford's narration is thrilling. I couldn't help going along for the ride through time. My favorite parts though were his witty debunking of crazy ideas parading as science and looney news headlines without any facts. Bravo!

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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

4 people found this helpful

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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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  • msm
  • 2020-12-28

makes me want to take the plunge

this bòok is a great listen... this teacher pushes you to want to know more about human biology.

2 people found this helpful