Mapping Human History: Discovering the Past through Our Genes

Finalist, National Book Awards 2002 for Nonfiction

ISBN 9780618091577
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Steve Olson

Steve Olson is author of the book Eruption: The Untold Story of Mount St. Helens, which Amazon has named one of the 20 best nonfiction books published in 2016 and which has been shortlisted for the Boardman Tasker Prize for Mountain Literature. More about this author >

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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.