Before the Dawn - SRH group read

Forum75 Books Challenge for 2014

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Before the Dawn - SRH group read

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Bearbeitet: Apr. 1, 2014, 1:08pm

This is one of the 2nd quarter 2014 options for Science, Religion, & History.

Before the Dawn by Nicholas Wade

Science, Religion, & History planning thread.
Science, Religion, & History 2014 book list

Apr. 2, 2014, 3:13pm

Hi, I've read through chapter 4. Thus far my favorite part has been the origin of language section. That had some completely new (to me) info.

Apr. 6, 2014, 11:37am

I'm at chapter seven.

This book is not that old! But both in genetics and in archaeology a lot has happened since he wrote this. I read New Scientist and Archaeology magazines fairly regularly, so I am aware that, for example, the dates for South America have been pushed back. He would have done better sometimes to have been less sure of his deductions.

He is also very careless in his use of words in other ways. p108 'Altogether some 87% of Europeans are descended ... only 13% are descended from ancestors who came to Europe around 10,000 years ago...' NO! I don't know about you, but I consider that I am descended through the male lines as well. These figures only refer to the pure matrilineal descent. These lines have mixed up pretty thoroughly in the past 10,000 years.

Apr. 8, 2014, 6:11am

I would have given this two or three stars if I hadn't finished it. One seems fairly generous after the last two pages.

Apr. 8, 2014, 12:09pm

Say more! That differs from other reviews I've read, some significant reservations about the authors argument notwithstanding.

Apr. 8, 2014, 12:42pm

Did you read the last two pages? I really don't want to write spoilers a week into the quarter.

Apr. 8, 2014, 1:26pm

Didn't the author recently release another book? Anyone know much about it?

Apr. 8, 2014, 2:10pm

>6 MarthaJeanne: I respect that: no, haven't read the book at all, it's on my TBR pile and I'm following this thread in part as a means of assessing whether to keep it, bump it up / down in the queue, and so forth. So I'll wait for further discussion.

Apr. 8, 2014, 2:18pm

>6 MarthaJeanne: I skimmed the last few pages... so I'd be interested to know more about your reaction. I don't think of this as being a spoilable sort of book. Or you could add the spoiler tag.

Apr. 18, 2014, 5:13pm

Hmm, I skimmed through the rest of the book. Many of the book's points I had already learned from other books. For example, much of the sexual selection info was familiar to me from The Red Queen. And it did seem like he was sometimes breezily fast and loose with the data.
>6 MarthaJeanne: the last 2 pages seemed out of left field.

Apr. 18, 2014, 5:52pm

>10 karspeak: yes, but... Certainly they had very little to do with the rest of the book. On the other hand by that time I had the feeling that he didn't really 'get' what he was writing about. And this proved it for me.

Apr. 21, 2014, 6:15am

>11 MarthaJeanne: I definitely won't be reading his new book that will be released soon...

Mai 2, 2014, 3:55pm

Started the book this morning and have read through chapter 3. Do we have a specific date for discussion to begin?

Jun. 26, 2014, 4:37pm

I finally finished the book, with a few days still left in the quarter!

I thought it was an interesting read, and I actually am inclined to read his next book because of all the controversy.

There were occasional parts that struck me as strange—for example, he takes cannibalism as clear evidence of warfare, because no one would willingly be cannibalized, without considering whether undesirable acts can be inflicted on someone within the structure of their own society. I was also not convinced that religion developed as a defense against freeloaders. For the most part, though, I was happy to have an accessible overview of the topic.

I think it's fairly safe to begin more detailed discussion at this point, and spoiler tags are always a possibility....

Jun. 26, 2014, 8:22pm

I'm stuck, about 100pp in. I'm really enjoying the read, and would love to see any comments that others have.

I don't know, can you have spoilers in a non-fiction book? Maybe they aren't the worry that they are with fiction.

Karen O.

Jun. 26, 2014, 8:35pm

Wow - OK - well, I finished the book over a month ago and had forgotten that we never had any kind of discussion about it. I found it to be mostly interesting and informative. I appreciate MarthaJeanne's comments above, but I don't read scientific journals so some inaccuracy in details doesn't bother me. With this kind of book I'm reading for the big picture. I liked his discussions about the relative dating of different migrations, and HOW that is done. But I do agree with MJ that the last few pages taint the whole. As far as any other comments, I will need to be reminded of some of the specific topics that were discussed in order to recall more of my reactions.

Jun. 26, 2014, 10:32pm

I have it sitting on a table for soonish, but I haven't started it so obviously I won't finish this quarter. Soonish is still on the agenda though...

Jul. 2, 2014, 4:01am

I finished it in the last week of June as well; quite an interesting and informative read.

Mai 8, 2017, 9:34am

I finished this book two years ago, but finding this thread I might as well add my review of it:

I felt as the book went on it got more and more speculative until I felt that I couldn't trust what I was reading. One thing that stood out was the conclusion that a large percentage of the population of central Asia is descended from Genghis Kahn because they have their Y chromosomes are the same in 15 position. While it may be that Genghis and his heirs spread their genes far and wide you cannot know that the Y chromosome assumed that form with Genghis, in fact it's likely that it assumed that form sometime before Genghis and it may have been shared by a large percentage of Mongolians at the time.

He also mistakes the idea that evolution acts by favoring those genes of those individuals who have the most surviving offspring with the idea that people therefore must have an explicit drive for having as many offspring as possible. In fact we aren't the slaves of evolution and we can choose to not have children and many do.