The Real Eve: Modern Man's Journey out of Africa

The Real Eve: Modern Man's Journey out of Africa

by Stephen Oppenheimer

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Imagine an airline check-in desk in Chicago, which has seven people standing in line. They stand silently and avoid eye contact because they don't know each other. And yet they are actually related -- all of them have an African female and male ancestor in common. Not only are we all ultimately African, but what's more it can now be proved that all modern non-Africans…  See more details below


Imagine an airline check-in desk in Chicago, which has seven people standing in line. They stand silently and avoid eye contact because they don't know each other. And yet they are actually related -- all of them have an African female and male ancestor in common. Not only are we all ultimately African, but what's more it can now be proved that all modern non-Africans sprang from a single exodus out of Africa, rather than peopling the Earth in multiple waves of migration. In a brilliant synthesis of genetic, archaeological and climatic evidence, Stephen Oppenheimer reveals the story of how a group of no more than a few hundred souls crossed the mouth of the Red Sea some 85,000 years ago. The people of the exodus, like their African brothers and sisters, were already intellectually modern in the fullest sense. The book follows their halting progress around the world -- to Australia, the Asian heartland and the now submerged continent of Beringia, and on to the last great unpeopled lands of the Americas. It is a revolutionary account that is both scholarly and entertaining, a remarkable picture of the kinship of all humans.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
"There was only one main Exodus of modern humans from Africa, and no more," writes medical doctor and researcher Oppenheimer (Eden in the East), taking on advocates of "multiregional" origins and those who believe there were several exoduses out of Africa. Oppenheimer deftly brings together recent advances in population genetics, climatology and archeology to advance his theory that when groups of Homo sapiens left Africa approximately 80,000 years ago, they first headed east along the Indian Ocean, where they formed settlements as far away as India over several thousands of years. It was only during a respite in glacial activity, when deserts turned into traversable grasslands, that our ancestors headed northwest into the Russian steppes and on into eastern Europe, as well as northeast through China and over the now submerged continent of Beringia (located where the Bering Strait is today) into North America. Much of Oppenheimer's theory relies on recent advances in studies of mitochondrial DNA, inherited through the maternal line, and Y chromosomes, inherited by males from their fathers. The author devotes a chapter to the question of when humans first arrived in the New World, the raging Clovis vs. pre-Clovis controversy. Oppenheimer briefly discusses development of racial characteristics like facial structure and skin coloration, important topics often viewed as too hot to handle. This book will appeal mainly to science buffs; the level of detail may prove daunting to general readers. It is the basis for a three-hour special that aired earlier this month on the Discovery Channel. Illus. not seen by PW. (Aug.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Within the study of modern human origins, two camps exist: supporters of the out-of-Africa theory believe that a single migration from Africa resulted in the peopling of Europe and Asia, while multiregionalists maintain that several earlier and separate populations gave rise to the local races now in evidence. Oppenheimer, a British physician and author of numerous medical and scientific articles, argues that modern genetic science clearly points to a single "tree" (traceable straight to Africa) and outlines the route that he believes was taken by early humans. This route extends from Eritrea to Yemen, then to India and Australia, finally to Europe and the Americas. This groundbreaking approach makes Europe one of the last places modern humans inhabited, which would end the belief that Europeans were the first to exhibit true culture (e.g., painting, carving, and speech). Racist prejudices and academic discord are also considered as the author poses his theories of migratory routes and racial origins. In his epilog, Oppenheimer clearly indicates which of his theories rest on reliable research and which are resting on shakier ground, allowing readers to decide for themselves regarding what is bound to be a controversial yet thought-provoking theory. The Discovery Channel recently aired The Real Eve as a three-hour documentary. Recommended for larger academic and public libraries.-Gloria Maxwell, Penn Valley Community Coll. Lib., Kansas City, MO Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The out-of-Africa thesis of our species' ancestry is tested, found solid, and approved for consumption. Oppenheimer (Eden in the East, 1999), a British physician and specialist in tropical diseases, brings only an amateur's credentials to his study, which defends the single-exodus-from-Africa position on human origins against recent arguments for multi-regionalism. Scholars who advance the latter view have suggested that archaic populations such as Neanderthals in Europe and Homo erectus in Asia contributed genetically to modern human bloodlines, which accounts for typical differences among peoples today. But, counters Oppenheimer, mitochondrial DNA studies allow human ancestry to be traced to two distant parents whose Homo sapiens offspring left Africa "at the first available interglacial warm-up between ice ages" some 75,000 years ago. From the new knowledge afforded by DNA studies and cladistics, he writes, "a picture of the Adam and Eve gene lines spreading from Africa to every corner of the world has been developed over the last decade." Oppenheimer allows that points of this single-origin program are controversial and that the dates now assigned to branches of the family tree are inexact at best. His account of the climatic forces that drove protohominids and modern human ancestors from the African cradle and thence all over the world is probably less controversial, though some critics may fault it as being overly deterministic. Specialists may grumble about Oppenheimer's playing in their yard, but it's clear throughout that he's done his homework and acquired a good command of the scholarly literature in physical anthropology and population genetics, even if his presentation issometimes a little too breezy ("Since many of the desert corridors in Africa and West Asia were green at that time, the would-be migrants to Australia could have walked briskly east straight from Israel to India"). Of interest to students of prehistory, although scholars are likely to pick at some of the threads of Oppenheimer's argument.

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Product Details

Basic Books
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6.38(w) x 9.58(h) x 1.63(d)

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