Alex Haley's book, Roots (1976), saw to the burgeoning of interest in one's ancestry. If Roots was genealogy lite, David Mahal's book, Before India (2014), is stout. At the risk of being invidious, one must point out that Mahal's oeuvre is not about genealogy (family trees, going back a few hundred years), it is about genetics -- not about individuals or even families but about tectonic shifts of large masses of humanity over eons. With increasing interest in our ancestry there has loomed a more demanding readership. The Genome Project has quickened the common reader's and the scientist's expectations. Mahal caters to them both. His impeccable research meets most rigorous standards, and is articulated in language both elegant and conducive to everyone understanding an abstruse subject. Along with people in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, the Maldives, Pakistan, and their diasporas in other countries, his book should interest everyone. Mahal starts roughly at 50,000 years ago, and lays to rest any mundane association of a large ethnic group to a single genetic source. He explains that ethnic groups in the Indian subcontinent tend to have multiple genetic sources, and therefore multiple geographic origins as well.
--Dr. Visho Sharma, Emeritus Professor of Social Science and Sociology, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan

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Before India, the 2014 book authored by David Mahal, is a valuable, useful, informative, and easy to read guide to human genetics. Since the decoding of the human genome in 2000, DNA testing has become increasingly popular to answer the important question of where each one of us came from. Mahal explains the modern advantages of individual genetic testing to trace one's deep ancestry of the past thousands of years more accurately than earlier approaches based on part guesswork and history. The author specifically focuses on the Indian subcontinent of currently over 1.7 billion people, with India projected to become the most populous country in the world. He shows the Indian people are not made up of one pure genetic type but are a fusion of multiple genetic origins, indicating the people of the world are interrelated which is an encouraging prediction for future human world collaboration. Also, he explores the diverse disciplines of the cosmos, evolution, human origins, and the history of migrations out of Africa thousands of years ago northward to the Middle East, the East to Persia, India, China and Australia, and West to Europe.
--Simon J. Simonian, MD, ScD, DSc Hon, Former President of Vein Institute and Clinical Professor of Surgery, Georgetown University Hospital, Visiting Faculty Professor at Harvard, Oxford and Cambridge Universities

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David Mahal's fascinating narrative of the roots of Indian communities before India was even conceived of reminds us of the pioneering efforts of Alex Haley who wrote the book Roots: The Saga of an American Family, published in 1976. Before India: Exploring Your Ancestry with DNA is about the movement of people into the Indian subcontinent before India as a historic entity came into existence. The book is a fascinating exercise which takes us back in time more than 50,000 years ago. Cutting across the different disciplines of history, archaeology and genetics, it tracks a history that predates India's historic past as we understand it. Such trans-disciplinary research is still unusual for the academia in the Asian continent but is a growing trend in the West.
--Prof. Vijaya Ramaswamy, Chairperson, Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India

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One of the sentences in Before India, authored by David Mahal, inspired me to reach out, "We don't know everything about our species, but thorough studies of the universe, fossils, genetics, behavior and biology, we continue to learn about our past and who we are today." I have learned through my extensive leadership career that the past serves a huge role in our lives, the way we lead today, the way we perceive the value of life, how we navigate life and shape our feelings. I personally respect and honor the curiosity for past family history and events. This book is a must read. It will take you to a deeper level, and help you understand your genetic and historical origins.
--Ana Weber, writer, speaker, leadership expert, founder of the DOXA method, author of 17 books on personal improvement and business success

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If somebody would ask me to write one sentence about the book Before India by David Mahal, my answer would be: "this is a masterpiece for a beginner interested in ancestry and genealogy, not only of India (as the title suggests), but also of the whole world." Though the area of human origin is fascinating it is equally very complex. And that's why even after dedicated research of more than a decade we are still uncertain about the complexity of human origins and migrations, e.g., one wave vs. several waves, initial peopling of India, southern route migration, archaic introgression, etc. For a general reader who is interested in ancestry and genealogy, it is much harder to understand and follow the original research papers, because of their terminology driven discussions. In these cases a concise and detailed view was needed to fill this gap between a scientist and a general reader. The book Before India is quite successful in bridging this gap. Overall, as I have said earlier, this book is the most suitable guide for a beginner and David Mahal has done impressive work to fill 'gagar me sagar' (the whole ocean in a pot).
--Dr. Gyaneshwer Chaubey, Professor, Banarus Hindu University, Varanasi, India; formerly Senior Researcher, Evolutionary Biology Workgroup, Estonian Biocentre, affiliated to the University of Tartu, Estonia

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Before India tracks the history of India and its people through historical documents, archaeological evidence and modern genetics. Initiated by the author's participation in the National Geographic Society's Genographic Project, this book tells a fascinating story of some of the diverse range of evidence that can be used to trace human ancestry. India's history of regular immigrations and mixing between populations, gives real insight into the diversity as well as the shared culture and ancestry of its people. Readers wanting to learn more about the diverse lines of evidence that can be used to trace relatedness and patterns of human evolution and migration will benefit from reading this book. It will inspire readers to learn more about their own family history and to answer the very human question - 'who am I?'
--Dr. Ed Turner, Institute of Continuing Education, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom

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... a scholarly account of our past.
--Dr. Partha P. Majumder, Director, National Institute of Biomedical Genomics, India

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... an excellent book.
--Dr. K. Thangaraj, Senior Principal Scientist, CSIR -- Centre for Cellular & Molecular Biology, Hyderabad, India

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Bringing together cosmology, genealogy, evolution, history and the story of the human genome, David Mahal's exploration of humankind's sense of belonging provides an accessible guide to the latest thinking on human genetic heritage ... the pleasure lies in the author's adept synthesis of diverse disciplines and in the provocative questions raised, not least the eternal importance of "where we come from" and of where that question now stands in the face of the DNA revolution. As Mahal demonstrates, current science promises a wholesale, sometimes startling reassessment of our roots and ancestry. Though the book's ultimate topic is the ethnicity of the Indian subcontinent there is much to enjoy, and learn, for all those interested in discovering their deeper family origins.
--Dr. Tim Barrett, Department for Continuing Education, Oxford University, United Kingdom

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This book is a fascinating extrapolation of the scientific facts, historical background and the tales and myths that surround the origin of humans not only in India but other subcontinents as well. The simple narrative that even a layman can grasp adds to the enjoyment. The extensive research on various topics covered in the book speaks volumes of the author's dedication and hard work. It was interesting to note the scientific explanations provided on many historical myths and tales. Overall a good book with a wealth of information.
--Dr. Seema Nair P, Department of Biotechnology and Biochemical Engineering, Sree Buddha College of Engineering, affiliated to University of Kerala, India

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In this debut guide to tracing family and cultural history, a genealogy enthusiast looks beyond the limits of the family tree to show what readers can learn about their ancestry through DNA analysis ... The book focuses on the major genetic markers among people of Indian ancestry, with color images of ancient artifacts and charts depicting the distribution of particular genes throughout India's ethnic and geographic communities.
--Kirkus Reviews
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Using the rich diversity of the Indian subcontinent as a focal point, the author takes the reader through the evolution of humans, the migratory patterns by which they populated the world, a brief history of the interactions and conflicts among ethnic groups on the subcontinent, and the basic science of genetics and its use to determine who, genetically, we really are. Easy to read and compelling in its presentation, this book is well described by its subtitle, "Exploring Your Ancestry with DNA," as it is a valuable resource for anyone of any ethnic background who wonders about his or her roots.
--HSL Houston
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Very good read.
--Idrish A. Vohra
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If you have an interest in history, this book will give you new insights about the beginning of man as well as a unique view of India's ancestral history. The author has given us a different vision of how we all began with an emphasis on the development of India and how we all can relate to this interesting saga based on science. The book is extensively researched.
--Jack Comiskey
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David Mahal has written a surprisingly interesting book on discovering our Ancestry with DNA. I found it easy to read and understand. It was to the point and concise. Reading this book, you can tell the author did extensive research. It is an interesting book no matter what your line of genealogy may be because it starts at the very beginning of human life which encompasses all nationalities. I highly recommend it.
--Annette Folz Sevedge
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Wonderful book!
--K. S. Hazuria
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Before India is an easy read about several complex topics about the history, culture and ethnicity of India. With a bird's eye view, the author tackles the complexity of a very diverse country through the lens of DNA analysis. The book first grounds the reader in very simple terms in the origins of humans and their subsequent migration patterns from the time of the caveman almost 300,000 years ago to the present. It then discusses the very significant genetic impact of those migrations (and often violent invasions) on the evolving cultures in India. A discussion follows of the Human Genome Project completed in 2000, including how DNA science is used to trace the deep ancestry of people. These topics are then tied together with the author's own personal pursuit of his genealogical history. This is accomplished by applying DNA research findings and subsequently-developed databases to describe the origins of several ethnic communities in the Indian subcontinent. For anyone who is curious about any of these topics or just planning a trip to India and wants to understand more about a very complex and ancient civilization, this book will provide you with a wealth of information.
--A. Benner
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I greatly appreciated the captivating excavation of history this writer took in his quest to understand his ancestral origins. This book is fluently written with chapters on the cosmos, the origin of life, evolution, Indian history, and the science of DNA. It identifies eight to twelve ancestral groups of several ethnic communities in the Indian subcontinent (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka) based on their DNA, and explains their geographical origins going back thousands of years. His book is erudite and attractively presented with many interesting charts and illustrations. Overall, an impressive achievement!
--I. Thackwell
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David Mahal's book has been very timely for me as I have sent for my DNA test and would like to learn about the ethnic lineages in the Indian Subcontinent where I come from. A few years ago I had my DNA examined through National Geographic's Geographic Project's database. It had shown my ancestral journey of about 25,000 to 60,000 years out of Africa in three migration paths. Now it will be interesting to see the ethnic connections along that journey through genes. I needed basic understanding of the concepts around this science and how it works. This book has given me this understanding in a logical and methodical way. The book takes you through the past history, the origin of humans and the migrations along the Indian subcontinent and South East Asia, all the way to Australia. The author has provided historic contexts along the migration paths by identifying various dynasties that got created and destroyed over various time lines. I had always naively assumed that that the race I belong to would be a "pure" lineage. Through the genetic data explanation, Mr. Mahal has shattered that myth: My race is related to or connected to several other ethnic communities who differ in culture, language etc., which I could not have imagined. This is a profound insight in that we are related to several other ethnic races through genes; and therefore there may not be any "pure" race. I wonder if everyone conduced such a DNA study for themselves, we would find that we have more in common among us than the differences--at least when viewed through genetics lens. This understanding could lead to more harmony among peoples. Before India is a book that you cannot put down if you like history, geography and genealogy. I have thoroughly enjoyed this easy to read and interesting to understand material.
--M. Gyba
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As one who has studied the history of Europe including the attacks from the various "Barbarian" groups I was fascinated to read of the similar history of the Indian Subcontinent. The maps of the areas of control by the successive invaders tells the strife riven story. To tie the history with the present DNA science gives a more comprehensive view and allows the reader to understand each development more fully.
--BPH Man
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