PrefaceTHE FIRST edition of The History and Geography of Human Genes has been in print for less than two years and has received a favorable welcome by scientists and the public. In a friendly review that appeared in Nature, Jared Diamond compared it to a box of chocolates one keeps in the refrigerator as a source of precious morsels. He also noted that the volume is heavy to handle: the geographic maps of single genes occupy about half the volume and are, with their large format, responsible for its size. It seemed reasonable to print an abridged paperback edition, retaining only the unmodified text and its own bibliography and analytical index. The original edition, with its numerical tables and geographical maps, will still be available for those who prefer it, and for libraries where it can always be consulted.
Collecting data from the literature for the original book was begun in 1978 and ended in 1986, after which the genetic and statistical analysis was started, and the actual writing begun. During the long process of publication of a volume this size (the final proof correction took place in the summer of 1993, and publication in summer 1994), there were chances of updating the text. Inevitably, the need to avoid further delays restricted somewhat our taking advantage of these opportunities. We hope to put soon on the Internet the complete numerical data on which the book is based. They refer to almost 2,000 different populations and contain as many as 86,000 entries. The tables in the first edition of the book contain only a summary of this file.
In the last ten years new data have accumulated, enriching the information on "classical markers," and especially that on DNA markers. Quite a number of new experimental methods of molecular DNA analysis have been devised, generating new types of data, as well as new methods of evolutionary analysis. With the experience we accumulated, the existing organization and the available network of communications, updating the information and analysis should be much faster than the first collection and review of the existing data. Depending on the resources that will be available, old and new information could also be shared by interested readers much more promptly. The Human Genome Diversity Project aims at collecting a balanced and representative set of human samples across the world in order to have information on genetic differences of our species. In five to ten years it should accumulate an entirely new matrix of data, much more systematically and efficiently than has been possible so far. New evidence will probably resolve old problems and provide new clues and new problems worth considering.
For this paperback edition we still offer-to a wider audience, we hope-the same suggestions, proofs, and conclusions we have presented in the full volume. As we discuss more specifically in the Epilogue, which is reprinted from the first edition, many of our conclusions are tentative and are there to be tested, challenged, or confirmed. The reduced size of this volume does not reduce the importance we attribute to their message. What we have seen published since the writing of the manuscript has not suggested any dramatic change in our conclusions, but a new era is now beginning.