Steve Olson’s Mapping Human History: Genes, Race and our Common Origins, 2002 is a book that seeks to trace our origin and history as human beings. It is a natural geographic travel log book that carries us into the past, across continents and into the lives of the cultures that were there in the past and those present today. Steve Olson, after travelling across four continents, tries to trace the origin of human beings and how our ancestors journeyed the world over for the past 150,000 years. Mapping Human History is a book that merges science and history to try and fill the puzzle that surrounds our ancestry. To support his theories on ma’s ancestry and our relatedness, Olson bases his findings from a variety of sources. The sources include: latest genetic sources, evidence form linguistics, findings from archaeology and record form fossils. Perhaps the most startling bits of the book are the perspectives with which he presents the invention of agriculture, the way America has been peopled, how language originated, the origin of the Jews and so much more. Theories, experiences, facts and observations are brought together to support these complex topics.
This book was written to address the subject of human genetics. As days go by, human genetics become a subject that faces us every day. In view of this therefore, it is important that we have literature that addresses this. Olson has done a tremendous job in trying to strike a balance between scientific evidence with journalistic sources, as he tries to trace the genetic history of man. His writing is clear and flowing. His enthusiastic about human origin and this is evident right from the beginning of the text. The definitions of terms that he gives like, those for speciation, mutation, genitive drift are very open-minded. Let us take his example of the definition he gives to the term recombination .he gives the term recombination the following description “the chromosome pairs delicately intertwine and exchange pieces in a process known as recombination. The result is two hybrid chromosomes, as if husband and wife had exchanged arms and legs” (Olson, 2002). As the arguments in the book develop, Olson presents to us genetic evidence that borrows heavily from our history.
He gives a good amount of attention to the contending “out of Africa” and “multiregional” hypothesis. The author concurs with most writers who have written on the same subject that the “out of Africa “hypothesis is more convincing. As in all races have their ancestry in Africa. Olson dedicates a whole chapter to how agriculture originated, there are those that address the genetic histories of Africa, Asia, Europe, the Americas, and the pacific islands. Despite the fact that the book’s main attention is on genetics, Olson gives some consideration to readings from archaeology and linguistics. Every chapter has some clear descriptions of places that the author visited while writing the book. He also conducted interviews with people who have expertise on this field and this blend serve to make the book lively, approachable and interesting even to lay readers.
Since the book is about the genetic variation of human beings, it was necessary that Olson addresses the issue of race. Race is a very touchy subject and Olson takes great care so as not to present it as being very simple. In fact, he gives this topic a relatively good amount of discussion. He says that race is only skin deep. But he does not make the mistake of saying that it is as simple as that or that we are all the alike. He accurately stresses the small grade of nucleotide variety that is present in all human beings, in relation to many other species, serve to make us different. He draws a distinction between human beings that come from different races, so that “there are real physical distinctions that exist between the average Nigerian, the average Norwegian, and the average Filipino.
Most of the members of these groups share a common biological history, which is reflected in their DNA” (Olson, 2002). He reaches an acceptable balance by giving prominence to the enormous exchanges that have occurred during the history of the human species with regard to genetic material, so that “in terms of our DNA, all human beings overlap” ( Olson, 2002). Out of these two explanations, we discover that there is an overlap and because of this overlap, there is a geographical range that individuals and even populations do not fit exactly into the race categories that we have. As a result of this, we discover that there are genetic human variations that create influential opinions against our definitions of race.
In addition to the above controversy, Olson looks into another controversy, which is the Human Genome Diversity Project. This project was opposed by some groups but Olson believes that research on this subject is important and should continue being carried out. He takes into account interviews that he conducted with Cavalla-Sforza, Hank Greely, Morris Foster and several other people who belong to opposition groups such as the Rural Advancement Foundation International. He has a very positive view of the conducting of studies on human genetic diversity, especially with utmost consideration to issues such as informed consent and ‘group consent’. Olson wants to provide tangible evidence to help us track our ancestries and also to give tangible evidence on the myths that surrounds our pasts, which is very necessary, because we need an unwavering point from which we can claim our ancestry and date it back to our first parents. He says that by comparing the DNA sequences of, geneticists have found out that 85% of the genetic differences present in human beings can only occur within groups and that only 15% occurs in populations.
The variants that affect the color of our skins and our facial features are because of minute nucleotides that are present in the DNA’s of everyone, yet we have made these minute genetic differences determine the way we treat each other forgetting that we have the same ancestral parents. The question of all human beings having a common ancestry can be calculated very easily. Each and every one of us has two parents, four grandparents, eight grandparents and the sequence goes back following this pattern. When we follow this sequence to several hundreds of generations, we will find that our ancestors were more in number than us who are currently living on earth. It is therefore possible that we may have ancestors in common.
Genetics gives us the evidence that we need to link us back in time to the original figures. This is what Olson refers to as the mitochondrial Eve. The concept of mitochondrial Eve disqualifies the multi-regional concept, leaving us with the “out of Africa” concept. This is because all of us can trace our ancestries to Eve and also because the more similar the mitochondrial DNA of two people are, the closer they are in relation. Mitochondrial Eve existed at around 100-200 years ago and this is when our species appeared in Africa. The author terms the relation that exists between us and our ancestors as “circles of inheritance” (Olson, 2002).
Olson in all this writing sets out to prove to us that race is not a biological construct neither is there a biological basis of race. Race is only skin deep but on the inside we are all alike. As he tries to give evidence of this, he takes care not to present it as a very simple subject because it is not, and this he does using the theory of mitochondrial Eve (Olson, 2002). The discrimination between races came as a result of the slave trade because the society redefined slaves by giving them other attributes, which when we really look at, are not deserving of them. Because their position in society was ‘low’, they were discriminated especially by the Europeans because they were being shipped to Europe.as a result of this, any other race that was not European was discriminated as well. Diseases like Tay-Sachs and sickle cell anemia are not the basis for defining people even though they are very prevalent in Africa.
Concerning agriculture, Olson presents to us evidence that shows the birthplace of agriculture, which he traces back to the Middle East (Olson, 2002). There is evidence though that shows the development of completely independent forms of agriculture. In addition, the author gives us the biblical accounts of Jericho as the place where agriculture originated formally. This is one of the reasons that agriculture was one of the greatest events of human prehistory. The question of why human beings resorted to agriculture yet they were initially hunters and gatherers is then raised. One of the reasons as to why man resorted to agriculture was because there was an increase in human population and the land became too small for people to continue hunting and gathering. Jericho was some sort of seasonal camp for the hunters and gatherers but became more permanent with the increase in human population. We can therefore conclude that nations and states are the expansion of the hunters and gatherers, according to Olson.
Another question is raised. Is being Jewish a result of genetics or the environment or both? He draws our attention to what is called Aaron’s Y chromosome. This chromosome came as a result of the Bible stories of Aaron, Moses’ brother. All the male descendants of Aaron were high priests as recorded in the Old Testament, and they were known as the kohanim. The Y chromosome is responsible for making a male, male. The Y chromosome is passed on from fathers to sons. The importance of Aaron’s Y chromosome is that more than half of all the priests who are living in Judaism today have the identical set of indicators on the Y chromosome. This, Olson calls the Cohen Modal Haplotype. There is a further interesting bit concerning this Cohen Modal Haplotype from the Lemba people of South Africa. The Lemba of South Africa belongs to the Jewish faith, and they claim that they are one of the 12 lost tribes of Israel, because of the Roman dispersion. This claim seems to be true because a good number of them have the Cohen Modal Haplotype. He also talks of the Samaritans, who have a lot of similarities with the Jews, but have not been accepted by the Jewish.
The other chapter uses description to tell us of the great migration to Asia and beyond. He looks at a collection of mummies that were discovered in central Asia together with other scientists. These mummies give us a glimpse into the distant past because some of them have European characteristics like light colored hair, sharp noses, and others. These mummies are considered very rare and they present us with a different and fresh study of genetics of the Chinese who live in the western parts of china. This is because they claim that they are totally independent from other people of Chinese origin. Though they claim that they are independent, they have a common ancestry with the Europeans, as research reveals. This is a significant research in genetics because it gives us an understanding of the migration that took place from Africa and into Asia and consequently to the rest of the world.
It is not clear however, how people from Africa moved into Asia. There are a number of suggestions of how they might have moved. For example they could have moved more to the east after arriving in the Middle East, or they could have travelled by boats across the strait of Bab al Mandeb, which is the narrow area between Djibouti which is in Africa, and Yemen, a country in Asia which lies on the Arabian Peninsula. There is evidence of the migration of human beings into Asia, after which they went to Australia because as human beings got into Australia, the large animals there went extinct and this happened between 60,00 and 65,000 years ago. To support his argument that we are all the same, Olson tells us of a study that was carried out by geneticist Li Jin who carried out a study on the genetics of the Y chromosome of 10,000 Chinese men.
The Asians and the Chinese believed that they developed separately from the Africans and they therefore claim that while they developed form Homo erectus, Africans developed form Homo sapiens. If they indeed developed separately from Africans, then there would be evidence in the Y chromosome.
However, the research shows that the Y chromosomes of these Chinese men are no different from those of African men. The absence of any differences therefore indicates that the Chinese and the Asians as well may have a common African ancestry. The Chinese find this very offending because they know that they originate from a proud ancestry from a man by the name Huang-Ti. If Huang-Ti existed as the Chinese claim, then it is evident that he had ancestors from Africa. This chapter is very significant because many theories have been used to try and distinguish the Asians as a distinct race. Some of them include; the existence of epicanthal folds i.e. the fleshy flaps of skin that are normally over the upper eyelid and flat noses. These two characteristics are normally considered adaptations to cold weather that the Asians have developed over time. However, it should be noted that these two features are not found in all Asians. They are only found on the ones who live in the Northern part of Asia. The bottom line of this chapter is that the differences that exist among the characteristics of the people of Asia have a diverse and complex human history and there are more similarities than differences and they are not really a distinct a race as they make us believe.
Olson forges on ahead to try and establish his theory that humans are related and have a common ancestry using language. It is not totally reasonable but we find some sense to it. His reasoning behind this is that as populations rise, languages evolve. He gives us the example of romance languages like Italian, Portuguese, French and Spanish. These languages are distinct but at the same time there is a lot that they have in common in that most of the words found in these languages sound the same. Languages that come from neighboring regions have more in common than those that do not. He then talks of the fields that linguists specialize in like the similarities and differences between languages. He also draws our attention to words that are found in more than one language and says that such words are more of cultural artifacts than ancestral ones. They include words like ‘okay’. This word can be used by a Japanese businessman, an African bushman with the same meaning and correct usage and this does not necessarily mean that all these languages are related. The point here is that language is an important and valid tool that can aid to determine how languages are related. It has its limits though, because they give very little evidence to suggest the common ancestry of human beings.
The next chapter talks about the origins of the Europeans and how the scientists from the west have tried to use science to prove that the Europeans are more superior to other groups of people over all the other peoples. This has been used in the fields of archaeology and anthropology in the past, and has led to the formation of many false notions about Europeans. The fact that they have white hair, brown eyes, does not distinguish them because the latest studies on mitochondrial DNA shows that there is a considerable flow of Europeans in and out of India, which serves to tell us that they share features. The Caucasians, under which the Indians fall, have the following features; some have dark skin, black hair, and brown eyes.
We have to understand that Europe is very diverse and this has resulted into many groups being diverse. Olson gives us the details to explain this complexity that has contributed to the mixture of colors that we see in Europe today. To give a summation to this, there is a continuous genetic mixing that is present to date and this is what has contributed to the diversity that we see in Europe today. There is also the issue of immigration, which has led to the further genetic mixing of people all over the world. There is an increasing rate of diversity in Europe that has never been since the agrarian revolution. The result of the influx of so much people on Europe is that they will change their perception and definition they have of the term ‘race’.
The last part of this book talks about the diversity wide range of diversity that exists in Hawaii. Hawaii is considered among the states with the highest concentrations of mixed human genetic material that has never been seen anywhere on earth. Hawaiians have a complex ancestry history which could be attributed to the influx of the many people that have been visiting the island since time immemorial. It has even become a problem to determine what an original Hawaiian looks like because of all the genetic mixture. Even with high rates of intermarriage and genetic mixtures, Olson says that the issue of racism will never end.
Steve Olson is a writer based in US and has specialized in mathematics, public policy, and mathematics. Among the books that he has authored are “Mapping Human History: Genes, Race, And Our Common Origins”; and “Count Down: Six Kids for Vie for Glory at the World’s Toughest Math Competition”. Other than the books, the Smithsonian, Scientific American, Science, and Wired, Washingtonian, Yale Alumni Magazine, Slate, and Paste. In fact, the book Mapping History won a National Book Award nomination in 2002. Some of the articles have managed to the Nature Writing 2007, and Best American Science 2003 (Olson, 2002).
Additionally, Steve Olson graduated 1978 from Yale University in with a Bachelor of Arts in physics, and he is also a science journalist. He has been to many workplaces, such as, the White House Office of Science and Technology, National Academy of Sciences, and Institute for Genomic Research. In his research work, Olson uses the research findings related to genetics in order to establish the mankind’s origin. His journey throughout the globe has been quite influential in gathering a lot of information about the human history and origin. He started with an exposition of the African origin and follows the migration routes and patterns of the forefathers all over the world, in the past 150, 000 years. In his inferences, he defies the accepted thoughts and contradicting questions concerning the future of the humankind. His book “Mapping History” has a sharp similarity with Jared Diamond’s book entitled “Guns, Germs and Steel”. This is because of the fact that both books are pioneering blend of science and history (Olson, 2002).
Together with his friends, he realized that tracing human life back to about 5, 000 to 7,000 past years, it is probable that people are alive in the contemporary society have a common group of ancestors. This has an implication that people who existed around that timed are the present ancestors to the 6.5 billion people living on earth today (Olson, 2002). Moreover, they assert that these people could have died and that they have no descendants around. Therefore, as a researcher who travelled wide, Olsen is great professional in that he has enlightened the human kind on their history, migration and development activities.
Olsen’s book, “Mapping History” is appropriate because it effectively explicates human history and science. The ideas have been build and brought out very explicitly through the use of a wide variety of sources in the society. One of these resources is the use of the linguistic evidence acquired from the people. Moreover, by using archeological results and genetic research findings, Olson managed to commendably expose the astounding unity that exists among the present human being, and exhibits how the immaturity of some human opinions (Olson, 2002).
The book is well-timed in that it responds to numerous questions in the human mind about their origin, ancestry, race, and genetic components. In his book, Olsen has clearly illuminated the human science to the entire public. In fact, he has excellently balanced his scientific and journalistic jobs and produced a valuable piece of information to many generations to come. One of the striking things about the book is that it has been written gracefully and overtly, and that the author’s zeal for the topic is quite ostensible. The fact that he has defined major terms in the book is quite remarkable as it enhances the reader’s comprehension of the subject in question. Some of the crucial concepts defined are mutation, speciation, natural selection, coalescence, and genetic drift. He also presents genetic proof that, in turn, strengthens the human understanding of the major historical events. Olson has also fastened each chapter of the book with very clear descriptions, and the places that he visited in the process of writing the book. For example, Skhul Cave, Hawaiian beaches, Stonehenge monument, and Jericho (Olson, 2002).
The book is also appropriate in that it provides a genealogy and of the entire humanity a t explicates some questions including why most of the people claim Confucius and Julius Caesar as their forefathers. What is more, he offers incredible new views on the invention of agriculture, language origins, the American people, and the Jewish history (Olson, 2002). In his agricultural explorations, sheds light on the ways in which people invented agriculture and made it prosper among different societies almost at the same time. In addition, through the application of the latest genetic research findings, he asserts that human races are typical biological reality. Therefore, the book is highly indispensable as it influences the way people think about themselves and their relations.
In terms of objectivity, I find the book quite appropriate as the author has managed to address all the issues in the book’s chapters. In chapter one, he talks about the end of evolution whereby he claims that everyone living on earth today is a descendant of the tiny group of people that lived in the eastern Africa (Olson, 2002). His second chapter of the book deals with groups and individuals in which the author offers scientific evidence to support his argument that race and biology are not related in any way. In this chapter, he also asserts that racial thoughts are a misadventure.
The book is also objective as it is seen in the third chapter whereby the author addresses the issues concerning the African migration and unity of genetics concerning the current human beings. He has used anecdotes to develop his ideas and bring out his science-based opinions. In chapter four, Olson talks about the encounters with other people (Olson, 2002). Here, he manages to employ scientific evidence to assert the absence of any genetic support for breeding between the current human beings and Neandertals. However, some of his arguments and inferences in the chapter are not quite satisfactory in his attempt to communicate his points.
The way he developed the book’s chapter about civilization, agriculture and ethnicity emergence is quite satisfactory. Olson effectively explains the kind of changes that took place in the development of agriculture. Moreover, his ideas on civilization are quite convincing as they are based agricultural innovations, and the impact of such developments on the human populations. In chapter six, Olsen explicitly talks about the Jews also referred to as God’s people. Here, he effectively explains the meaning of a Jew and what it entails to be one. Moreover, he manages to put across the determining factors of being a Jew, for example environment and genetics (Olson, 2002).
The book is also relatively elaborate as it addresses the issues of migration among people on earth. In chapter seven of the great migration, the book interprets fossils, genetics and archeological proof, the author manages to explore the migration of the modern people to Australia and Asia (Olson, 2002). The most hypothetical topic in the book as it talks about the development of language and genes. He also talks about the Europeans, their developments and their history. Using the monument of the Stonehenge to demonstrate how human beings experienced significant transformations in their lifestyle. In fact, he asserts that the current genetics has condemned the concept that the present human beings living in Europe are more advanced biologically than those living in other parts of the world.
In addition, the fact that the author has explained the future of Europe and immigration makes the book thorough. The book analyzes how Europe’s face is changing and factors that are related to these changes. Also, it addresses the French policy of assimilation as a determinant of migration. Also, it effectively handles forces that favored and those that worked against the policy. It also tackles the burden of knowledge in the chapter 12. Here, Olson elaborates how the Americans have refused to take part in the Human Genome Diversity Project (Olson, 2002). Within the same chapter, the author also justifies his statements by providing reasons for their reluctance. Other issues that he effectively handles in the chapter include the ethical concerns involved in the gathering of people’s genetic knowledge. In his book’ last chapter, he talks about the end of the race. This is where the author foresees the increase in intermarriages, and the effects on the human life. Besides, he argues that the issue is quite a challenge as it will be difficult to tell an individual’s origin.
Olson’s book, Mapping History is quite crucial in that it provides the readers with a lot of information on their history and origins. This way, human beings are able to understand their past and connect with their ancestry. Reading the book is also useful in that it offers an insight on factors that led to the way things are on earth. It also provides answers to many questions about the existence of some phenomena and why people are the way they are (Olson, 2002). Additionally, the book is beneficial in that it explains why other countries like Europe are more advanced than others. Olson’s book is also useful in that it facilitates the people’s knowledge about the early developments, agricultural inventions and how they have impacted human life. Given that the book is quite resourceful, it highly indispensable to the intended audience as it can draw as much information as it can from it.
Because population genetic is a touchy subject, it makes the book very resourceful as it presents how diverse communities are suffering the susceptibility of contracting deadly diseases. For instance, the Asheknazi Jews are a high risk of contracting the Tay-Sachs disease among others (Olson, 2002). Also, the other populations like the Amazonian Indians are underprivileged and endangered by the invading powers of the worldwide wealth. Therefore, Olson’s book is instrumental in illuminating factors that positively and negatively affect populations in the modern world. Basing on this knowledge, such populations can strive to find out discover ways of handling the challenge through mitigation and total prevention of the diseases in order to maintain a steady health in the society.
Besides, Mapping History is worth reading as it addresses a controversial matter involving the Human Genome Diversity Project. This is a project, however, was strongly objected by other groups of scholars. By bringing his interviews with Hank Greely, Cavalli-Sforza, and Morris Foster, Olson presents an unbiased dealing with the issue (Olson, 2002). His feelings about the suitability of studying human genetics are worth-noting as they educate the public and the researchers as well. The most striking thing in this matter is Olson’s neutrality when dealing with his opponents. With these facts, Olson’s book is effective and recommendable to anyone that has a genetic scientific interest.
On the other hand, there are certain issues that discredit Olson’s book, Mapping History. Even though there have been a lot of migrations of the modern human beings form one place to another, the book’s focus seems to be misplaced. It is true that the book has addressed issues relating to origins of people, the genetics of the people of western china and the Jewish history. It has also explains the spread of language phylogenies, Indo-Europeans, and the modern French genetic structure (Olson, 2002). The French genetic and American’s peopling were majorly used to punish the racists.
Despite the benefits, accuracy and thoroughness of the book, it is still inappropriate as it handles quite contradictory issues. The issue of doing round the world looking for the racial ancestries is debatable. It is really incomprehensible that someone would move round four continents searching for human history and development just like Olson. What is more, the emigrational levels handled in the book are too high that no ethnic group or race can claim that it has a pure descent (Olson, 2002). In this book, there are issues relating to human behaviors evolutionary studies.
Just like any other book written for a specific audience, the book has some statements are misplaced. For instance, it is inappropriate to claim that all the human beings all sober the world share genes. Moreover, the amount of conceptions ending in is certainly larger than 20%. Therefore, the assumptions that are found as troublesome is that all people living on earth are believed to have descended from individuals that lived many years ago. Therefore, the author implies that the modern generation is the descendant of the Julius Caesar, Kennewick Man Confucius, and Nefertiti (Olson, 2002). Compared to J. Chang’s statistical analysis, it is impossible for human beings to have common genes. He objects the Olsen’s objections that the there was an unsystematic breeding across the population, hence resulting in one descent.
Additionally, the book is a perfect example of what takes place political rightness clashes with the science world. It is unfortunate that Olson had a preachy way of putting across these importance issues in the book. In fact, the book unsuitable but can really frustrate the most naïve and determined reader. The fact that in his thesis claims that racial issues have no biological connection, and that race has no biological reality is incorrect. Besides, the fact that Olson thinks that the opposite is major cause of genocidal clashes and other evils is wrong. On the contrary, human beings are 99%chimpanzees, and that race is merely skin deep as all the races are similar (Olson, 2002).
Furthermore, his dismissal of race as insignificant in humanity is an insult to many people, especially those that participate in racial wars, or parents whose children are ripe for marriage, or the Jews (Olson, 2002). Given that Olson thinks that race is not important in life, he fails because he later emphasizes on the significance of intermarriages. Additionally, his opinion that race is a mere social construct should disqualify his insistence on the discovery of racial things in the laboratories. With the understanding of these facts, it is justified to say that the book is full of shallow publicity of the multiculturalists whose main objective is to achieve peace through diversity. These are also people who are completely brainwashed and with ineffective ideology of the ambitious visionaries.
The use of little excitement in communicating this important information about human history and race is another writer’s failure. The science concerning race is a notable field that is gradually progressing and needs to be handled well. If the writer had used the most attractive tools and methods in developing and communicating his sentiments, the book would have been more enjoyable and easy to understand than it is. As one of the most remarkable scientific endeavors, it has a lot of significance to mankind. Therefore, the author ought to have put across his ideas in a more interesting way so as to reach the intended audience.
Another irritable thing about the book is that the author allowed his personal narrations get into the book. For example, when he talks about the time he spent together with his friend Joe Smith as they drank beer on a sunny day (Olson, 2002). This information is quite personal and should never be permitted to spill into such book’s content. This is because it demonstrates the author’s weakness that drives him of course and bores distract the audience. Although this style of writing is acceptable in the contemporary science literature, as it hard a touch of the personality to a boring and formal text, it should be used appropriately. This is because too mush application of the style on serious texts, such as, this book can easily detracts from the expected due to intrusion and makes the text lose attractiveness. Moreover, this can give an impression that the author is merely interested in feeling the pages for lack of anything else to say.
Explicitly, the book’s focus on racial issues and the importance of ancestry is unsuitable. This is because of the fact that the modern people do not really attach a lot of importance to their ancestries. It does not really matter who is considered to among one’s ancestry due to the way the way in which genetic relationships are disintegrating with sequential generations (Olson, 2002). According to Austen Hughes, past is considered as mere fiction that forms a point in which a modern man should place his present arrangements of relatedness. Besides, the book has some racial bias in that the author has largely dwelled on the research findings based in North America or that happened to North Americans.
Generally, the book is unfitting especially to determined and wide readers of science. It also makes sense to beginners who are likely to get attracted to and excited by the book’s ideas. For the individuals that are new to the modern scientific ideas, the book might help a great deal. Olson’s book also has a drawback in that it has unrealistic examples and many omissions. In spite of its short comings, the book is still recommendable to everyone interested in human history, genes and race. Therefore, the book has a lot of useful information that it is a necessity to everyone.
In summary, Olson’s book, Mapping History is a suitable because it is rich in information that could have otherwise been hard to acquire. In all his thirteen chapters, he has clearly brought out his thesis, developed, analyzed, discussed and summarized his ideas clearly. The major topics in the book are: The End of Evolution; Individual and Groups; The African Diaspora and The Genetic Unity Of Modern Humans; Encounters with the Other; Agriculture, Civilization, and the Emergence of Ethnicity; God’s People,; Genes and Language; Who are the European; Who are the European?; Immigration and the Future Of Europe; The Burden of Knowledge; and The End of Race. The major ideas that the writer has put across in the book are evolution, migration, race, and the agricultural inventions that led to mankind’s development and civilizations. This book is not without some misstatements though. It is for example easy to undo the claim that not a single tribal group is genetically pure.
The Basques for instance, despite the fact that they have inter married and mixed with other groups are very distinct, both in their genetic ancestry, as well as their language. Another failing of the book is the way the author intrudes into the flow of the book. The other factual objection that appears in several parts of the book is the assertion that all human beings who are alive today are direct descendants of virtually everybody who lived like ten or more generations in the past.in other words; Olson is saying that we are all descendants of the likes of Confucius and Caesar. He bases this claim on a statistical analysis carried out by J. Chang. This analysis assumes that random mating existed and as Chang himself recognized such an assumption is completely unrealistic and there is no way that such a claim would serve as evidence to support the conclusions that Olson makes. He gives the book a liberal touch and a good pace to such an explosive subject as the history of human ancestry.