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A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived: The Human Story Retold Through Our Genes by Adam Rutherford, The Experiment, US $25.95, Pp 416, October 2017, ISBN 978-1615194049

Human beings have been asking questions about themselves since time immemorial, but mostly without getting the right answers. Who were our ancestors? Where did they come from? The science of genes has recently started to answer these and similar questions. Scientists have blown off the lid off our DNA where the answers to these and similar questions were hidden. In A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived, Adam Rutherford says that genomics is completely rewriting the human story – from 100,000 years ago to the present. Adam Rutherford says this is the story about you. It concerns the story of who you are and how you came to be. It is our individual story as well as the collective story because the journey of life that alights at our existence is unique as well as collective. In other words, it is the story of every person who has ever breathed. Rutherford says that, despite our differences, all humans are remarkably close relatives, and family tree is pollarded and tortuous, and not in the slightest bit like a tree. But we are the fruit thereof.

Adam Rutherford says that we are unique, and can do so many things that no other species can come close to. All species are unique, and we can’t see in sixteen different wavelengths of light like the mantis shrimp does. We cannot fly for a thousand miles without stopping to rest like so many birds or we cannot breathe underwater. Adam Rutherford argues that our uniquely evolved intelligence has pushed us to be a technological species. We do all those things because we invented science and engineering and culture, and strove to understand our world and ourselves. We are the species that looked in the mirror, but it wasn’t vanity that prompted us to interrogate our own bodies and our evolution. It was curiosity. To be incurious is to be inhuman. We did look inward into the hidden kingdom of anatomy, then cells, and now genes. We also looked up to the skies, and down into the ground and seas, and into the invisible worlds of the atoms, and sub atoms, and now the quantum realm. We are the explorers, and science is exploration.

In trying to understand who we are and how we came to be here now, we reconstruct the past. Rutherford says that we are infinitely more than our DNA and we have come a very long way. He writes, “Using the length of this book as a timescale, recorded history is only equivalent to a single character, one letter among more than 685,000. But within that minuscule drop in the earth’s oceans of time is all human history, recorded in stone, in writing, in art, by word, in bones, in buildings and kitchenware, and in DNA.” In short, the genome is a history book, and we will not cease from exploring it, and as long as there are people our exploring will never be at an end.

A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived is a very interesting book that details the recent discoveries in the field of genes. As scientists became able to read our genes, they discovered that our genes contained the history of human species’ history. A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived will tell you more about yourself than you can even imagine. Adam Rutherford has written about the recent discoveries by the scientists of genes in a very readable and plain language. Even a high schooler will understand and enjoy this highly scientific book.

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