DNA, history, and genealogy

downloadIn about a week my friend Christine Kenneally will have a new book out, The Invisible History of the Human Race: How DNA and History Shape Our Identities and Our Futures. The scope of the work is pretty diverse, from individual personal stories, to the sorts of grand historical narratives which the Reich lab is spinning from their numerous publications. I had the pleasure of reading early drafts of the work, and what struck me is that Christine does a very good job of making the case for why genealogy is not silly, a common problem that people in the field encounter. Honestly I didn’t give much thought to genealogy until recently, but then I’m one of the people who is rather certain of the near-term genealogy of my family. When your past is more clouded these issues can loom much larger. It’s only silly when you’re confident of your background. The role that DNA can play in constructing the larger portrait is pretty straightforward.

Aside from the human element threaded through the science hardcore DNA junkies won’t find much to surprise. Christine touches base with the usual suspects in personal genomics, as well as those who work in an academic setting. But if you are a more general layperson who is sometimes befuddled by the jargon in my posts, this would be a pretty good taste of the field, and where the “post-genomic era” is leading us all.

Posted in Uncategorized