Before the Dawn – Recovering the Lost History of Our Ancestors
Nicholas Wade- 2006 -279pages
Wade – is a reporter for the New York Times, previously worked for both Nature and Science magazines.
Wade’s book, covering the evolutionary development of humans following both the work in Genetics and Language, deals with the effects of warfare, development of settled societies, sexual selection, religion and trade.
I found some of the discussion on the details of genetic research methods difficult to follow. (Most likely because my background in this area is weak, my last biology class was in 1966.)
The book is highly interesting and informative; it covers the exodus of humans from Africa and the development of variety among the human species because of our existence in relatively isolated groups through most of our history. A main point of this book is that human evolution did not stop 50,000 years ago with the development of modern humans, a point he finds is too often overlooked especially by historians and other social scientists according to Wade.
He also discusses genetic as a result of changes in environment, both social and physical. The discussions of the genetic changes possibly underlying human societies change from hunter-gather societies to modern settled societies is a large part of the book and is very interesting.
In his conclusion he discusses the benefits and dangers of humans becoming able to direct our own evolutionary development by directed genetic methods rather than let nature take its course, something we all may need to think about.
I recommend this book, particularly if you have a child who is taking biology and or general world history course as it puts things into a perspective that is often left out of these courses.