Luca Cavalli-Sforza biography

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I just found out recently that a biography of Luca Cavalli-Sforza was published this spring, A Genetic and Cultural Odyssey. I’ll probably be reading it over the Thanksgiving weekend, but I thought I’d give people a heads up around here since I suspect I’m not the only fan. The History and Geography of Human Genes is one of those seminal works which has really shaped the intellectual path I have taken. Over the years I have become progressively more skeptical about reading history from alleles frequencies, but Cavalli-Sforza’s work is an interdisciplinary inspiration to this day. If a readable genetic monograph is your cup of tea, I also recommend Consanguinity, Inbreeding, and Genetic Drift in Italy. I picked it up a few years in Barnes & Noble in New York, and read most of it on the airplane. The frequency of aunt-nephew marriages in Sicily will make you wonder! Finally, Genetics of Human Populations is back in print, though the text isn’t updated a lot of the population genetic models are becoming extremely relevant again to deal with the swarms of data that are the norm in the post-genomic era.


  1. I read some of that earlier this year, but got distracted by the Cyril Darlington book, and never turned back. 
    My favorite LLC-S was his collection on African Pygmies. You can see why he is so paranoid about protecting his image from racism – there is nothing about the pygmy that goes unmeasured.

  2. i keep thinking dick darlington from coupling.

  3. Is anybody working on a successor book to “History and Geography of Human Genes”? Cavalli-Sforza and his co-authors cut off data collection for the book in 1986, so there is little in it from actual DNA testing.

  4. steve, i think there is way too much data now to sift through. it would be a 10 volume affair. and anyway, the broad sketch of cavalli-sforza’s work seems to have been validated.

  5. According to Harpending’s review Human Evolutionary Genetics is the new H&GoHG.

  6. According to Harpending’s review Human Evolutionary Genetics is the new H&GoHG. 
    the equivalent vector, but not the magnitude :)