04 January 2007

Texts on DNA Genetics

If you are interested in reading more about DNA, here is a list of articles and books currently available. I have added comments to help give an indication of the level of understanding required.

Articles on the Web

There are a large number of articles freely downloadable on the web, far too many to list here. For general information try the ROOTSWEB site, DNA section (use Google or your favorite search engine to search on Rootsweb DNA, or try Roper’s DNA site (search on Roper DNA) or Kevin Duerinck’s site (search on Duerinck DNA). To see if there’s any projects on names in which you are interested simply search for SURNAME [the surname you are interested in] DNA.

If you feel ready to try some of the more scientific papers, let’s say for Y chromosome, do a search for “Y chromosome DNA pdf”. To narrow your search for Y chromosome to a particular group, add that word to your search – for example “Celtic” or “Gaelic” or “Viking” (though you might get more with “Norwegian” and/or “Icelandic”). The articles you will find using this search will be in .pdf format and you will need the free Adobe Acrobat reader on your computer (many have it pre-installed but, in any case, it is freely downloadable).

Most of these articles are actual scientific papers therefore, expect technical jargon. However, the discussion sections are usually quite accessible. For a list of interesting articles relevant to DNA, have a look at www.familytreeDNA.com – there is a page on the site with useful articles.


Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza, Genes, Peoples and Language, London, Penguin Books 2000/2001 [like it says – quite general, maybe a bit repetitive]

Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza, Paolo Menozzi, Alberto Piazza, The History and Geography of Human Genes, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1994 [NB the abridged version is 411 pages long – technical and not for the faint hearted – cost about £25 paperback]

M.A. Jobling, M.E. Hurles, C. Tyler-Smith, Human Evolutionary Genetics, Abingdon: Garland Science, 2004 [an undergraduate textbook but excellent on detail, if you can cope with the science]

Martin Jones, The Molecule Hunt, London, Penguin Books 2001/2002 [excellent introduction to all things DNA]

Steve Jones, Y: The Descent of Men, London: Abacus 2002 (the same author has written Genetics for Beginners, The Language of the Genes, In the Blood, Almost like a Whale, as well as co-authoring several others) [Robin McKie in The Observer described this book as ‘…a delicious romp through the biology of the human male’!]

Steve Olsen, Mapping Human History, London, Bloomsbury 2002 [covers the same ground as Oppenheimer]

Stephen Oppenheimer, Out of Eden (The Peopling of the World), London, Constable 2003 (NB the same book has a different title in America) [Y chromosome and MtDNA: a very thorough and well presented survey but not one to start with]

Stephen Oppenheimer, The Origins of the British, London: Constable 2006

Chris Pomery, DNA and Family History, Richmond, Surrey: The National Archives, 2004 [a good starting point for learning about genealogy and DNA]

Colin Renfrew and Katie Boyle, Archaeogenetics: DNA and the population prehistory of Europe, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge 2000 (distributed by Oxbow Books, Oxford). [Variety of technical and non technical articles covering many European peoples as well as DNA aspects of plants and animals] [NB £40+]

Julian Richards, Blood of the Vikings, London, Hodder and Stoughton 2001/2002 [Y chromosome of the Vikings – but buy the paperback]

John H. Relethford, Reflections of Our Past, New York, Oxford: Westview Press 2003 [includes some discussion of other methods of analysis e.g. blood and has a section on Ireland]

Alan Savin, DNA for Family Historians, Alan Savin 2000, http://savin.org [The first author to tackle the subject of Genealogy by DNA]

Megan Smolenyak and Ann Turner, Trace Your Roots with DNA, Rodale 2004 [the authors are very experienced in the whole area and write well]

Alan Stewart, Tracing Scottish Ancestry on the Internet, Chichester: St Richard’s Press 2004 [includes a section on DNA]

Bryan Sykes (editor), The Human Inheritance, Oxford, Oxford University Press 1999 [series of articles on archaeology, language and DNA of ancient origins]

Bryan Sykes, The Seven Daughters of Eve, London, Bantam Press 2001 [MtDNA]

Bryan Sykes, Adam’s Curse, London, Bantam Press 2003 [General discussion of Y chromosome]

Bryan Sykes, Blood of the Isles, London, Bantam Press 2006 [British Y chromosome]

Spencer Wells, The Journey of Man, London, Penguin Books 2002 [Y chromosome]


If you have the Discovery Channel, watch for repeats of "The Real Eve" (for mitochondrial DNA) and "The Journey of Man" for the Y chromosome.

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