In captivating prose, journalist Kenneally explores what makes each of us unique. While discussing the critical, but not necessarily determinative, role that DNA plays, Keneally examines the impact environment can have both on a person’s immediate conditions and the long-term influences exerted by cultural factors over many generations. She interviews molecular biologists working to understand how genes influence physical traits, population geneticists attempting to reconstruct the genetic configuration of centuries-old populations, genealogists looking to create family lineages (as well as the principals of companies promoting such searches), and those in charge of the Mormon archive of personal demographic data, the largest of its sort in the world. Kenneally ties these fascinating strands into a complex, powerful, and engaging narrative. She superbly compares and contrasts the related concepts of race and lineage while tackling the ways in which eugenicists and Nazis misunderstood and misused the data available to them. With those abuses in mind, she also confronts the premise that simply making use of such information may be problematic. Kenneally offers a rich, thoughtful blend of science, social science, and philosophy in a manner that mixes personal history with the history of the human species. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/04/2014 Release date: 10/09/2014 Genre: Nonfiction
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