Understanding Patterns of Human Variation
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This book has much to recommend it. Although intended for use as a textbook in upper level undergraduate or beginning graduate classes in human variation and adaptation, the book will also be useful as a reference for those wanting current information on human biological variation. The authors, highly respected physical anthropologists, have succeeded admirably in their goal to write an authoritative book that is accessible to students. However, I do not imagine that most readers of this journal will be considering adopting the book for classroom use, so this review will concentrate on aspects of the book that make it useful in other contexts.
The three chapters in the first section of the book begin with a very nice overview of the sometimes inglorious history of attempts to classify human biological variation into races, followed by a chapter covering the basics of Mendelian and molecular genetics, and a chapter on population genetics. The latter two chapters cover material found in...