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Crisscrossing the continent, a renowned geneticist provides a groundbreaking examination of America through its DNA.
The best-selling author of The Seven Daughters of Eve now turns his sights on the United States, one of the most genetically variegated countries in the world. From the blue-blooded pockets of old-WASP New England to the vast tribal lands of the Navajo, Bryan Sykes takes us on a historical genetic tour, interviewing genealogists, geneticists, anthropologists, and everyday Americans with compelling ancestral stories. His findings suggest:
• Of Americans whose ancestors came as slaves, virtually all have some European DNA.
• Racial intermixing appears least common among descendants of early New England colonists.
• There is clear evidence of Jewish genes among descendants of southwestern Spanish Catholics.
• Among white Americans, evidence of African DNA is most common in the South.
• European genes appeared among Native Americans as early as ten thousand years ago.
An unprecedented look into America's genetic mosaic and how we perceive race, DNA USA challenges the very notion of what we think it means to be American.
America s gorgeous mosaic emerges from its DNA in this fascinating if sometimes muddled treatise on genetics and genealogy. Oxford geneticist Sykes (The Seven Daughters of Eve) traveled across the United States collecting DNA samples, recording family histories, and gazing out the window of his train car. (His evocative landscapes are one of the book s chief pleasures.) The resulting chromosomal portraits, painted by analyzing markers that correlate with African, European, or Asian Native American populations, reveal DNA tell-tales of unsuspected centuries-old migrations and mixings: Mexican-American Catholics descended from Spanish Jews; white Southerners with substantial African-American ancestry; possible journeys from Europe to North America 10,000 years ago. Sykes gives lucid, entertaining explanations of new genetic techniques and their startling success at tracing familial ties across continents and millennia. But he often flounders in contradictory interpretations as he veers between deploring artificial ethnic categories and subtly endorsing them ( My pancreas functions on a combination of both African and European genes ) his genetic testing company, Oxford Ancestors, helps British customers peg their forefathers as Viking, Saxon, or Celt. Still, Sykes s history of hidden kinships and epic wanderings captures the imagination. Photos.