In Early Indians, Tony Joseph uses DNA evidence to trace the large migrations of modern humans into India – of agriculturists from Iran between 7000 BCE and 3000 BCE and pastoralists from the Central Asian Steppe between 2000 BCE and 1000 BCE. In this book, Joseph takes head-on some of the most controversial and uncomfortable questions of Indian history: Who were the Harappans? Did the ‘Aryans’ really migrate to India? Are Scheduled Tribes genetically distinct from the rest of the population? [Watch: Book Discussion: Early Indians by Tony Joseph, Hartosh Bal, Dr Shashi Tharoor]

Tony Joseph was the former editor of Businessworld and has also been a columnist and contributor to leading newspapers and magazines.

Sujatha Byravan, a scientist who studies science, technology, and development policy, writes in her review of Early Indians in The Hindu:

‘Joseph writes a compelling story about these findings and traces the people of India from prehistory to near history. It is an astonishing tale, difficult to put down, but dense given the amount of detail it covers.

She also adds:

‘This book is excellent science journalism, the kind that we need more of in other disciplines. Following the DNA sleuths and their stories is hardly a simple task. Ideologues of racial superiority may likely not agree with these or other scientific findings about evolution or human migrations.’

Peter Gordon, the editor of the Asian Review of Books, says in his review:

‘Tony Joseph has, based on and catalyzed by the most recent genetic research, written a clear, readable and, for those unfamiliar with the subject, fascinating history of Indians as a people. It will also serve both as a primer to the way the ability to read the human genome is revolutionizing archaeology as well as a salutary alternative to the eurocentric perspective of many if not most treatments of early human history.’

He further adds:

‘Joseph writes with an infectious enthusiasm. “Early Indians” is both a readable overview of India’s early history as well as how advances in human genetics—but also linguistics and other sciences—have revolutionized our understanding of pre-history. The book’s subtitle will likely mean that this fascinating tale will not circulate outside India as much as it deserves to. The story merits an “international” edition.’

Jay Desai, a neurologist, writes in The Wire:

‘Joseph deserves our gratitude for writing a masterpiece with such clarity and lucidity, despite numerous opportunities for confusion, and a flair that renders the stories of our roots exciting. Even if not for this, every Indian should read the book at least to learn how scientific evidence can be compelling. Passages from the book need to be incorporated into textbooks for young students.’

Joyjeet Das, Consulting Editor, Down To Earth:

‘[Early Indians] does become one of the first books… to tell us the story of the first Indians all the way up to the point when history is ready to take over from prehistory. And he does all that in a manner that does not scare away the interested, but lay reader; rather leave her wanting to know more.’

Nandakishore Varma‘s review on GoodReads says:

‘This is an extremely readable book on a fascinating subject, and will whet your appetite for more research. I recommend it to all of my friends who love food for the intellect.’

Asani‘s review on Goodreads says:

‘A superb, well-researched and clearly written book by Tony Joseph on how India was populated and from where… Joseph marshalls an impressive body of evidence, from genetic to linguistic to archaeological and meteorological… This is a must-read book for anyone interested in the story of our humanity.’

A review on Amazon by Abhinav:

‘This book masterfully breaks through all this confusion and provides clarity and perspective to answer all such questions. The modern science of genetics, linguistics, paleogeology, anthropology, and archaeology are now beginning to provide a clearer picture and this book translates the latest ideas for laymen. The narrative that emerges only makes us prouder as Indians and brings us closer to our own heritage. The message of unity in diversity is not only a slogan but is an integral part of our own genetic makeup and our rich historical story.

[Watch: Do You Know Where Your DNA Is Actually From?]

Rahul Bedi’s review on Amazon says:

‘After years of reading about this topic on “peopling” of India, finally a book that is current on the info including the recent ancient DNA analysis papers from David Reich et al and the author does not try to “give his own judgement” but rather puts facts on the table in a simple manner and covers different aspects of this often debated problem – genetics, archaeology, protohistory, etc.

For those of you needing a refresher or just want to satiate your curiosity on this contentious topic, read this book.’

Abhishek Debnath, Top 500 Reviewer, Amazon:

‘This book is an absolute stunner. If you “really” have the interest to know about your deep past, and the long-forgotten story of your journey, you shouldn’t miss this book. The text is highly readable, keeps you engrossed right from the first line and till the end. The binding, the font size, the design, and the overall production of the book is nothing short of brilliant. Highly totally absolutely recommended for you, my dear fellow Indian reader!’

If you still haven’t read the book, here’s the link to Tony Joseph’s Early Indians: The Story of Our Ancestors and Where We Came From.


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