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on June 19, 2017
I thoroughly enjoyed this book because you could tell that Bryan Sykes so thoroughly enjoyed the scientific investigations he took on throughout his professional life. He was not only a rigorous genetics scientist but valued the use of imagination in his work and was not afraid to use expertise from other scientific branches--paleontology, archaeology, mathematics--to help his projects go forward and find answers. Many people did not like his "stories" of the seven daughters. I did. You know he researched what the climate was like, what plants were growing at the different ages, what the landscape looked like, what animals roamed the land, what people would have eaten back then. Perhaps the stories themselves were a bit simplistic but I was fascinated by all of the background info. And now his stories raise a question that I cannot answer right now: would I rather live in Europe now with its large, polluted cities and overpopulation or way back when only small bands of people roamed Europe with the cold, the constant hunt for food, the constant perils to one's life, and the overwhelming emptiness of the area?
7 people found this helpful
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on March 19, 2015
I liked it as an anthropology book, but the stories he wrote about the seven grandmothers were a bit much. I realize he was trying to put a human face on all of them, but writers of stone age novels don't have to worry about a new rival. Still it is about the development of mitochondrial DNA and how Sykes was exonerated by the false charges from a research assistant, and by the nasty statements by Anthony Sforza of Stanford who must now feel like a fool for his vicious comments towards Sykes. I worked in academia as a business officer for twenty years at different universities and got to see this nasty and vicious jealousy first hand over and over. Sykes seminal contribution for female mitochondrial DNA is just as important as Sforza's seminal contribution for male Y chromosome DNA.
11 people found this helpful
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on September 27, 2017
I would have been a lot more disappointed in the 100% European results of my recent DNA test if I hadn't happened to be reading The Seven Daughters of Eve when my pie chart came in over the Internet. The book focuses largely on European mitochondrial DNA. Bryan Sykes made me realize that European ancestry isn't just boring "white bread." My ancestors have been milling around in Europe for tens of thousands of years, through episodes of extreme climate change and sudden technological innovations. The author, a pioneer in the study of mitochondrial DNA as a window into the past, writes in a lively and at times humorous way about what could have been a dry topic. (Sometimes he lost me in the technicalities, but I just bashed my way out of the woods and read on.) Now I want to know which of the Seven Daughters is my great-great-etc.-grandmother.
3 people found this helpful
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on February 4, 2017
If you have had DNA testing done, especially if you are a woman, this book is a must read. It explains the source of your particular type of DNA in story form that is easily understandable. Our DNA is passed down remarkably unchanged over centuries from mother to daughter. You will find out where in the world your DNA originated and what kind of life ancient people lived there. Even children might enjoy these stories if they are interested in science and DNA testing.
13 people found this helpful
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My Mom could have been one. She had three daughters. However, I (the eldest) was the only one who had children, and I had five sons! That takes care of that.
I really enjoyed the book. I surprised myself, reading and mostly understanding what I was reading. The only reason I gave it a four instead of a five is because I had never delved into much scientific reading, particularly on genetics. Everything was new to me. I found it extremely interesting. I think I will order a couple more books by the same author.
7 people found this helpful
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on July 28, 2014
I read this book while taking human genetics. I also have nearly 20,000 people in my family tree database. I appreciated the view on the evolution of the genetics community, and on the discovery mtDNA sequencing and its usefulness. I did not particularly want to read the diatribe regarding a colleague in the middle of the discovery, and did not feel it added to the story. The description of how science arrived at seven women who were common to pretty much the entire human race, even if at different time periods, was fascinating. It was especially fascinating reading about the many probable other lines that likely died out, and how that occurs. The book contributed immensely to my enjoyment of learning more about genetics.
6 people found this helpful
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on November 19, 2014
Family history researchers should read "The Seven Daughters of Eve" before doing any genetic genealogy. Bryan Sykes explains the general concepts, vocabulary, and important details in an overview of this new field. Although a science work, he enlivens the book with anecdotes about himself and other researchers. Oh, how I love to see scientists argue! Their discussions elicit new ideas and concepts. This type of exchange reminds me a the early "Nova" episodes. Published in 2001, the book should not now be regarded as encyclopedic. New discoveries continue to broaden the field, but Sykes' synthesis sets the foundation for the average non scientist. Some criticise his depiction of early humans using a narrative form as kind of a "Clan of the Cavebear" intrusion, I'm OK with it. Whole books have been written using the non fiction story genre, so why not a bit here? Sykes reminds us in these short episodes that there had to be firsts for everything: first beta-male wolf to be domesticated, first canoe, and first realization that seeds became plants. With so much information about mitochondrial DNA, this book's a keeper.
6 people found this helpful
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on August 18, 2016
Explores a new approach to the realm of the potential DNA testing holds to even answering the very age-old question of "Who came into the area we now know as Europe first, the Hunters or the Farmers?" Credible proof for the settling of the various parts of the world and how the peoples migrated to that area based on the mitochondrial mutations of mothers--utterly fascinating!
4 people found this helpful
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on March 2, 2018
I am a scientist myself, albeit in an entirely different discipline. Sykes is a very pleasant narrator who manages to dose scientific content in such a way that the reader is never discouraged by complexity. The struggle of getting new and contradictory scientific insights accepted in a community of established alpha's is very recognizable and therefore very amusing and consoling at the same time.
For me, a statistician, the book triggered some contemplation on the subject too: given that only seven arch-mothers managed to pass on their mitochondrial DNA, and given that the number of generations that have passed since their tribes existed can be estimated, and making some assumptions on family sizes and composition, and assuming that fertility does not change between mDNA lines: can it be estimated how many people populated Europe in the days of the arch-mothers?
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on June 22, 2017
I bought this for the historical aspect. Many more advances have been made since it was written. It read okay but I could have done without his imaginative parts.
2 people found this helpful
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