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?
What role does Neanderthal DNA play in our genetic makeup? How did the theory of eugenics embraced by Nazi Germany first develop? How is trust passed down in Africa, and silence inherited in Tasmania? How are private companies like Ancestry.com uncovering, preserving and potentially editing the past? In The Invisible History of the Human Race, Christine Kenneally reveals that, remarkably, it is not only our biological history that is coded in our DNA, but also our social history. She breaks down myths of determinism and draws on cutting-edge research to explore how both historical artefacts and our DNA tell us where we have come from and where we may be going.
A New York Times Notable Book
‘The richest, freshest, most fun book on genetics in some time.’ —New York Times Book Review
‘Original and provocative.’ —New Yorker
‘[A] sparkling, sometimes harrowing read.’ —Nature
Shortlisted 2015 Stella Prize
Shortlisted 2015 Queensland Literary Awards
Winner 2015 Bragg UNSW Press Prize for Science Writing
Christine Kenneally is an award-winning journalist and author who has written for the New Yorker, the New York Times, Slate, Time magazine, New Scientist, the Monthly, and other publications. She is the author of The First Word: The Search for the Origins of Language, which was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award. She currently lives in Melbourne.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Christine Kenneally’s approachable and entertaining prose makes us forget that we’re actually getting a refresher course on genetics. Considering how quickly the field is advancing, the Australian-born journalist’s survey on the significance of DNA is thrillingly informative. The Invisible History of the Human Race traces our emergence from Africa, explores the question of nature vs. nurture and probes the disquieting field of eugenics. A gifted storyteller, Kenneally shines light on thorny human mysteries, helping us look at ourselves in the mirror, under the microscope and through the wider prism of the billions who’ve lived before us.
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.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Fascinating read, highly recommended.
Total mawkish, unscientific rubbis at an undergrad thesis level.