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October 2011
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bookworm Bookworm
By John Andrews

For a little light relief I always like to dip into the classics and have just finished The Warden, being the first of the Barsetshire novels, by Anthony Trollope. Trollope’s six-volume portrayal of the professional and landed classes of Victorian England is a group of one of the great works of 19th century English fiction.

I strongly recommend the novels published by Oxford University Press in the elegantly crafted hand-bound set, with acid-free paper and durable binding, allowing us the perfect opportunity to enjoy them at leisure.

I also want to direct readers to a superb book by Stephen Oppenheimer, and published now in paperback by Robinson in London. Out of Eden: the peopling of the world invites us to imagine an airline check-in queue in Chicago or London, or Paris for that matter. Seven people stand in front of you in the queue. One is a solicitor of afro-Caribbean origin, another a blond- haired girl whose family come from northern Europe, another a computer expert who was born in India. The fourth is a Chinese teenager listening to music on his i-Pad, and the fifth, sixth and seventh are all attending a conference on rock art and come respectively from Australia, New Guinea and South America. All seven are quiet and avoid eye contact, because they neither know one another, nor feel related in any way. Yet it can now be proved they are all related and all ultimately have an African female and African male ancestor in common.

With the publishing of DNA research in the last ten years and with the analysis of the genes of any one of these seven people waiting patiently in the queue, it is now possible to trace the route taken by our ancestors 150,000 years ago, back to the ultimate birthplace in the rift valley of central Africa.

Out of Eden is a very accessible read and written almost like a novel in that one discovery leads to another. Who needs detective fiction when the real thing is so exciting!

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