Mapping Human History by Steve Olson
Discovering the Past Through Our Genes

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In this sweeping narrative of the past 150,000 years of human history, Steve Olson draws on new understandings in genetics to reveal how the people of the world came to be.
Traveling across four continents, Olson describes the African origins of modern humans and the migration of our ancestors throughout the world. He offers a genealogy of all of humanity, explaining, for instance, why everyone can claim Julius Caesar and Confucius as their forebears and how the history of the Jewish people jibes with, and diverges from, biblical accounts. He shows how groups of people differ and yet are the same, exploding the myth that human races are a biological reality while demonstrating how the accidents of history have resulted in the rich diversity of people today.
Celebrating both our commonality and our variety, MAPPING HUMAN HISTORY is a masterful synthesis of the human past and present that will forever change how we think about ourselves and our relations with others.

About Steve Olson

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Steve Olson’s Mapping Human History was a National Book Award finalist and won the Science-in-Society Award from the National Association of Science Writers. Olson has also written for the Atlantic Monthly, Scientific American, and Science. He lives in Bethesda, Maryland, where he coaches the math team at a public middle school.
Published May 15, 2002 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 304 pages
Genres: History, Science & Math. Non-fiction

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Example: A woman who gives birth to two daughters, one with the mother’s intact mitochondrial DNA and one with a single mutation, is the ancestor of two groups of females—one with the intact sequence, the other with the mutated form.

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The Guardian

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Mapping Human History: Discovering the Past Through Our Genes by Steve Olson 292pp, Bloomsbury, £17.99 My grandparents were Jews from Byelorus and Poland.

Jul 06 2002 | Read Full Review of Mapping Human History: Discov...

Publishers Weekly

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Though Olson spreads himself a little thin tackling the origins of race and the origins of language in a single concise volume, this is an engaging and fast-paced look at a subject that has profound implications for our everyday lives.

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London Review of Books

In contrast to the bulk of the DNA carried in our cells, mitochondrial DNA is relatively uncomplicated and easy to study.

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