We are doomed to repeat history if we fail to learn from it, but how are we affected by the forces that are invisible to us? In The Invisible History of the Human Race, Christine Kenneally draws on cutting-edge research to reveal how both historical artifacts and DNA tell us where we come from and where we may be going.
While some books explore our genetic inheritance and some popular television shows celebrate ancestry, this is the first book to explore how everything from DNA to emotions to names and the stories that form our lives are all part of our human legacy. Kenneally shows how trust is inherited in Africa, how silence is passed down in Tasmania, and how the history of nations is written in our DNA. From fateful ancient encounters to modern mass migrations and medical diagnoses, Kenneally explains how the forces that shaped the history of the world ultimately shape each human who inhabits it.
©2014 Christine Kenneally (P)2014 Tantor
Say something about yourself!
In the tradition of Daniel Gilbert, Malcolm Gladwell, Mary Roach, Sarah Vowell, Bruce Chatwin, and, oh, the list goes on, this is a book that blends personal narrative with the fascinating world of science, all laid out in language the Average Joe (such as Moi) can embrace. This is a book we can all relate to, because it's all about us...our ancestry, our genetics, and the blend of the two. I have listened to it twice now (and I've only had it a week!).
I was really touched by the personal stories included by author Christine Kenneally...she discusses her own discovery of secrets in her family. Also, there are touching moments of people who have traced their ancestry in order to better understand who they are themselves.
I have not listened to any of Eyre's previous work, but found her to be a solid narrator for this work. The best complement I can ever pay a narrator is that he or she doesn't get in the way of the text--in other words, the narrator fades into the background to the point where you are really focused on the story. Eyre does just that, for which I'm grateful. As we all know, a narrator can make or break an audiobook.
There is a moment when one interviewee finds a gravestone of an ancestor who lived back in the 1500's. Kenneally beautifully describes this powerful moment and what it means to an individual who, heretofore, hadn't known much about her heritage.
This book is smart, superbly written, and endlessly entertaining. If you've ever watched that PBS show "Finding Your Roots," or you've looked in the mirror, wondering from whom you got your nose, this book will win you over. At the same time, Kenneally explains DNA, how it works, how it's transferred from one generation to the next...and even more important in this era of terrorism and anger, how we are all, at the core, related to one another, bound by our genes.
I listened to this book almost straight through in one sitting. I was intrigued, I listened again. A book to be cherished and devoured by science geeks, genealogy enthusiasts, and human beings alike.
The Ragtag Horde
I enjoyed it a great deal, and will listen to again at some point. The narrator's accent was very strong and hard to understand at first, but once my ear adjusted to it she was perfect.
Bill Bryson's "At Home" - they are overview histories, ranging far and wide around the basic subject. You aren't going to be educated in depth about any one subject, but rather introduced to topics and ideas worth delving deeper into on your own.
Christine Kenneally herself.
I was struck by the need we almost all have to connect to the past, to reach back in time and know where we came from.
This book is the convergence of genetics and genealogy, and it is an exciting time. I'd love to read an update in about 10 years!
The content of the book was great but the narrator was too soft spoken. She spoke so softly that the volume needed to be raised very high to hear her causing lots of background static noise. I couldn't listen to the entire book, I switched to reading print.
This reader has an accent and voice that is difficult to understand. Many times I missed words and passages because I couldn't understand them.
The subject was interesting but I missed a lot
This book covers a very interesting topic and one I've been interested in for quite some time. I appreciate the authors breadth of information and the expanse with which she treats the subject. It sometimes gets a little in the weeds but for those with specific and technical knowledge I'm sure it is rewarding. My only issue with the audiobook is that the narrator's accent is sometimes difficult to listen to. I'm sure they were going for someone who sounded something like the author but for a non-Australian audience it could be challenging.
Well written examples of connections between classical heredity and Applied Genomics. An excellent book which I recommend to anyone curious about the future of human sciences.
Faced with mindless duty, when an audio book player slips into a rear pocket and mini buds pop into ears, old is made new again.
The science of DNA is at once enlightening and frightening. It reveals the essence of human life while exposing intimate and potentially destructive information about individual lives. Perfecting DNA sequencing may cure the worse diseases of humankind. However, perfect sequencing invades one’s privacy in a technological world that disseminates information indiscriminately.
Christine Kenneally thoughtfully reviews the current (2014) science of DNA analysis. She notes how it is being collected, defined, and used. Kenneally suggests that DNA analysis is a time machine; i.e. it reveals much about the origin of humankind. One who chooses to have their DNA analyzed can determine a great deal about their ancestry. In theory, if everyone on earth had their DNA analyzed, it would be possible to precisely determine how every human being relates to other human beings. It would offer clues, but not certainty, about how they came to live where they live, feel like they feel, and act like they act. (Because human beings are influenced by their environment, genetic inheritance is not the sole determinant of where one lives, how one feels, or acts.)
Because these are the early years of DNA sequencing, laws have not caught up to the science. Companies that provide the service are subject to all the temptations of money, power, and prestige inherent in society. Dissemination of information is ubiquitous in the internet age. It is a brave new world with a dream of eradicating disease; while the nightmare of “Big Brother” manipulation endures.
DNA is History
The most memorable moment of the book was following the DNA out of Africa. The book carefully lays a foundation for understanding DNA and how it can be an effective marker for the historical migrations of mankind. Then, it moves, as it must, into the tricky area of DNA and race. Although the vast majority of human DNA is identical, there are some small markers that show us race. And, tracing the movements of men through the race markers is fascinating. It is also unsettling because, the use of race based DNA, in the wrong hands, could be used to discriminate. What if Hitler had the genetic means to determine whether a person was "Aryan?"
Justine Eyre is excellent. Her diction is so precise, I was able to speed up the performance and hear the book - fast.
I was surprised and I was educated by this book. Recommended for all adults.
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