Book Review: A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived
Adam Rutherford is a geneticist, broadcaster, author, and science communicator. He regularly hosts the science news radio programme, BBC Inside Science, which looks at the topical science news of the week. He has also been an editor for the science journal, Nature, and co-hosts The Curious Cases of Rutherford & Fry, scientifically answering questions sent in by the listeners. Given this background, it is no surprise that his latest book is bursting with knowledge and interest.
A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived takes a complex look at the subject of genetics, while maintaining an impressive sense of readability. Whether you have been studying genetics for years, or are starting from scratch, this book will have something for you. As well as explaining somewhat complicated genetic ideas in an easily understandable way, Rutherford deals with the sometimes controversial cultural ideas surrounding genetics, including a deconstruction of race and a thorough examination of at-home genetics testing kits.
The book begins by examining our past, looking at how we have got to where we are today. This covers ideas about the exodus from Africa, and our last common human ancestors – who were around a lot more recently than you might think. The second half of the book focusses on where we are now It discusses, among other things, the genome and our ability to read, manipulate, and make use of it.
As well as going a long way to increase the reader’s understanding of genetics in general, the book really opens up the past through the use of genetics. It is clear that this is not just a subject contained to a lab, but has many applications reaching much further. If you have an interest in science, genetics, human history, or just plain old people, then this book will have something for you.