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Publisher's Summary

A groundbreaking book about how ancient DNA has profoundly changed our understanding of human history

Geneticists like David Reich have made astounding advances in the field of genomics, which is proving to be as important as archaeology, linguistics, and written records as a means to understand our ancestry. 

In Who We Are and How We Got Here, Reich allows listeners to discover how the human genome provides not only all the information a human embryo needs to develop but also the hidden story of our species. Reich delves into how the genomic revolution is transforming our understanding of modern humans and how DNA studies reveal deep inequalities among different populations, between the sexes, and among individuals. Provocatively, Reich's book suggests that there might very well be biological differences among human populations but that these differences are unlikely to conform to common stereotypes.

Drawing upon revolutionary findings and unparalleled scientific studies, Who We Are and How We Got Here is a captivating glimpse into humankind - where we came from and what that says about our lives today.

A New York Times best-seller in Science Books. A #1 Amazon.com bestseller in the Biochemistry List.

©2018 David Reich (P)2018 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about Who We Are and How We Got Here

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Great narrator, easy to digest and great prose.

This was a great listen. Easy to follow and the natrator was good to listen to.

5 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

Great content, monotonous narration

I love this subject and the work that has gone into it is fascinating. But the narration is like a screen reader on downers.

2 people found this helpful

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Great book. Terrible Reader.

David's writing kept me engaged through Johns monotone droning. This books needs a re-record. I look forward to David Reich's next work.

1 person found this helpful

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Badly done

This is read as though by Noah Weather radio computers on a faulty voice activated recorder. I don’t think that a single sentence begins without half of the word not being recorded. It makes it very difficult to understand.

1 person found this helpful

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I have a number of feelings about this book

First off, aDNA work is amazing. It's going to answer questions that we've never even been close to knowing before, like the identity of the founders of the Indus river valley civilization. This will be a cool field to watch going forward, and this book gives a number of great examples of what already has been and what soon will be discovered.

At the same time, this is only *sort of* a book about aDNA. The first part focuses on it exclusively, but then there's this big section in the middle where the author tends to use a lot more data from modern populations due to the paucity of aDNA data. This is fine, but technically is a slight diversion. In the near future, I do hope we get more data from East Asia / the Americas, as those are the main areas where data is lacking (with the caveat that the data must be collected ethically).

The final part of the book is more of an address of the social ramifications of aDNA research. This is referenced throughout the text (ie. the political ramifications of non-south asian ancestry in India), but the final chapters really focus on it. I think it's good to have this part, but the author is wandering into an area that he is less well suited to address. On the whole I agree with him (most especially his point that academic institutions discouraging genetic studies to avoid sounding racist is actually harmful, because it drives the field away from peer review and towards politically radical pseudo-scientists), but if you find controversy in the book you'll find it in these chapters.

All in all, I would still strongly encourage anyone with an interest in anthropology, history, applied molecular biology, or bioinformatics to give this a read. I fully believe the author when he posits that aDNA with be of the same order of importance as carbon dating, and even for the general public this isn't something to be left ignorant on! I do hope though to see a proper synthesis of the field in a decade or two when the data are more complete.

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Important

This book is highly important for the breaking of barriers between cultures and perceptions on race.

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  • Kaz
  • 2021-10-26

Very rich and informative

This book contains tons of scientific findings. I felt lost in some chapters but overall it gave me a lot of unbiased information. if you are interested in human genetics and how it relates to cultures and languages this is an awesome book to read.

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Too much genetics and not enough paleoanthropology

This book is far too technical for my liking although this should in no way detract from the knowledge and groundbreaking work of the author. For those who are more interested in genetics, this book is probably wonderful. But I wanted to get the paleoanthropological history of humanity without so much technical detail.

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  • Anthony
  • 2018-07-16

Great information in a very academic format.

Information is great in this book. Really makes you feel like we are about to explode into an entirely new world of understanding about our past and human genetic differences and similarities. Makes the world seem more interesting instead of everyone is the same narrative.
The issues with the book are the style and the audio presenter.
The book feels like an academic journal article. The info is great but sometimes I wish the author would have entered more of the academic info in footnotes instead of in long drawn out pages of how they did such and such etc.
The reader is also an issue. I really wasn’t sure at times if this book wasn’t read by some kind of computer program. Not easy to listen to an academic text book read by a computer. Otherwise a very good book on the new knowledge being discovered everyday.

38 people found this helpful

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  • Jane W.
  • 2018-07-15

Great Book, No Maps Available thru Audible

I loved this book. Just what I’m interested in. I did return the Audible version because Audible does not provide access to the illustrations and maps in the book. The maps especially are important for tracing human migrations.

84 people found this helpful

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  • ultrunner
  • 2018-09-17

Excellent book, awful reading

The book is one of the best I've listened to in a long time. Unfortunately, the reading, somehow computer-generated, is the worst I've come across. The story makes it worth to endure.

24 people found this helpful

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  • D. Jinkerson
  • 2018-08-14

Great book, not the best narration

I enjoyed this book but the narrator was very monotone and halting. I decided to continue anyway since I found the content interesting.

14 people found this helpful

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  • Maxine
  • 2019-04-08

Not What I Expected

First, this is a brilliant book, and I certainly recommend it! However, be warned that it gets pretty technical and (at least for me) difficult to follow at times. Also, I would argue that it doesn't quite address what one might expect from the title. It is a rather comprehensive survey of the state of the science of genetic history, giving a picture of relationships of archaic and ancient human populations and their likely distributions over time. How any of this relates to human nature (as I interpret the meaning of the "who were are" question) is impossible to tell without understanding of the nature of those populations or how such nature might propagate. But if you're at all interested in how sequencing DNA of current and ancient humans has shed light on the migrations and interbreeding of human populations, definitely read this! Although later in the book, the author speculates some on what certain traits might have a genetic basis and how we may discover it, this book's value does not lie in interpretations of genetic traits. It's beauty is in the unapologetic unveiling of what we know so far about our ancient ancestry.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Paula
  • 2018-12-11

Fantastic book - terrible reader!

I've been fascinated by the whole concept of ancient DNA and what this tells us about humanity and the intertwined history of 'modern humans', Neanderthals, Denisovans, etc. for some time - and have been moving from audiobook to audiobook as each author points me to a new and even more fascinating aspect. I came to David Reich's contribution from Svante Paabo's amazing book on the sequencing of the Neanderthal genome and couldn't wait to hear the next stage of the sage, until...

... the reader! Honestly! This is one of that class of readers who puts completely random breaks in every sentence without any logic whatever! This is my pet hate and I actually returned the book to Audible because I was so frustrated and bought the e-book version from Amazon instead. But because I live in the country and do a lot of driving and listen to audiobooks in the car, I had to move on to something different - and that, in its own way, was so frustrating that I came back and bought the book again (something I've never done before).

So: the book is marvellous and I recommend it to anyone who is interested in the whole ancient DNA / human paleontology subject. The reader is so truly awful that words cannot describe the depths of my distress in having to listen to him! I guess this goes to show just how good the book is.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Andy G.
  • 2018-11-02

Great but the narration lacks

I think the narrator does very well considering what is asked, and the content is fascinating and convincing. But it is not easy to listen to.

I am comparing this to a few "Great Courses" audio courses where the professors are the ones narrating. The narration of the professors is much more interesting, not because they gave other information, but because you could hear them emphasizing what points were most important in any sentence or chapter. They were passionate about it and it made a lot of difference.

17 people found this helpful

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  • Keith
  • 2020-12-03

Too much politics

Great information on the recent advancements in genetic analysis, but full of multiple chapters of apologizing for and justifying of the politically correct dogma of present day academia. Talk of nationalism, racism, sexism, and all manner of academic bigotry is peppered throughout the text. If you want to see how politics is corrupting science at the most basic level, listen to this book.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Than
  • 2018-11-20

Kicking Myself

I'm kicking myself for not writing a review of this book when it was fresh just after I finished it. This was SUCH A GOOD BOOK. This is the genetics/anthropology book I've wanted for some time now. It talks about all the most recent evidence (up to early 2018). Some people might find it too hard to keep up with the science but "I personally think" (famous last words) that most people will understand at least 90% of the science it talks about. What I liked too near the end of the book was the point he makes for studying 'racial genetics' not to encourage racism but as a means to break down racial stereotypes. He does so not from an emotional standpoint but from a scientific one using established science along racial stereotypes to discount them. If you want to know all the coolest new science in human anthropology and genetics along with where we need more study in the future then read this book!

5 people found this helpful

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  • S&B
  • 2018-12-11

Great content lamentable reading

This probably should have been read by the author. It sounded like computer voice software reading the content.

4 people found this helpful