Before the Dawn

Before the Dawn: Recovering the Lost History of Our Ancestors is a book about human prehistory by New York Times Science section reporter Nicholas Wade.

This book explores human history from the development of speech to agriculture and settlements. Its focus is mainly on genetic information.

I liked the book as it is full of lots of interesting information about human prehistory. As a science reporter, Nick Wade is also good at writing science stories and hence keeps it interesting and accessible for the layman.

If I have any issue with Before the Dawn, it is that it should be thought of more as a series of articles than a book with a continuous flow through the chapters. Also, at a few places, it felt like the author was describing some current research which might or might not pan out in the way it is described. However, that is always a trade-off in such a book, whether to focus on the state of the art (which might be rejected later on) or write only about widely accepted ideas (which reduces the appeal of the book).

Overall, it is a book worth reading if you are interested in discovering about humanity’s origins and development.

By Zack

Dad, gadget guy, bookworm, political animal, global nomad, cyclist, hiker, tennis player, photographer


  1. Unfortunately, our country is much advanced in copying the senseless fashions is far behind in education.

  2. This text seems to cover a period of history partially covered by Diamond’s “Guns, Germans and Steel.” It would be interesting to read about that period from the genetic perspective.

  3. Captain Arrrgh:

    Guns, Germans and Steel


    Do note that Guns, Germs and Steel is about the grand narrative of history while Before the Dawn has no such thing.

  4. Arrrgh! Double Arrrgh!

    Yes, I meant to type “Germs.” Although, guns and steel do, historically, fit with Germans…

  5. The Third Chimpanzee

    This is a good, though somewhat dated, book about the rise of Homo Sapiens. While eminently readable and full of interesting information, I found the focus on nuclear or environmental holocaust to be a hindrance.

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