The Genetic Strand: Exploring a Family History Through DNA (Google eBook)

Front Cover
Simon and Schuster, Nov 6, 2007 - Biography & Autobiography - 288 pages
15 Reviews
The Genetic Strand is the story of a writer's investigation, using DNA science, into the tale of his family's origins. National Book Award winner Edward Ball has turned his probing gaze on the microcosm of the human genome, and not just any human genome -- that of his slave-holding ancestors. What is the legacy of such a family history, and can DNA say something about it?

In 2000, after a decade in New York City, Ball bought a house in Charleston, South Carolina, home to his father's family for generations, and furnished it with heirloom pieces from his relatives. In one old desk he was startled to discover a secret drawer, sealed perhaps since the Civil War, in which someone had hidden a trove of family hair, with each lock of hair labeled and dated. The strange find propelled him to investigate: what might DNA science reveal about the people -- Ball's family members, long dead -- to whom the hair had belonged? Did the hair come from white relatives, as family tradition insisted? How can genetic tests explain personal identity?

Part crime-scene investigation, part genealogical romp, The Genetic Strand is a personal odyssey into DNA and family history. The story takes the reader into forensics labs where technicians screen remains, using genetics breakthroughs like DNA fingerprinting, and into rooms where fathers nervously await paternity test results. It also summons the writer¹s entertaining and idiosyncratic family, such as Ball¹s antebellum predecessor, Aunt Betsy, who published nutty books on good Southern society; Kate Fuller, the enigmatic ancestor who may have introduced African genes into the Ball family pool; and the author¹s first cousin Catherine, very much alive, who donates a cheek swab from a mouth more attuned to sweet iced tea than DNA sampling.

Writing gracefully but pacing his story like an old-fashioned whodunit, Edward Ball tracks genes shared across generations, adding suspense and personal meaning to what the scientists and Nobel laureates tell us. A beguiling DNA tale, The Genetic Strand reaches toward a new form of writing the genetic memoir.
  

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Review: The Genetic Strand: Exploring a Family History Through DNA

User Review  - Diane - Goodreads

This was an interesting concept. The author finds lockets of hair from several his ancestors from as early as 1830 in the drawer of a family heirloom desk. He decides to do DNA analysis on the hair to ... Read full review

Review: The Genetic Strand: Exploring a Family History Through DNA

User Review  - Jean Liska - Goodreads

An easy to read books on the possibilities of using DNA for learning about one's ancestors Read full review

Contents

The Desk
5
The Molecule
25
Out of Africa
49
Americanus rubescus
71
Intragression
89
Kate Fuller
107
The Color of Home
121
Cousin Marriage
135
Poisoned Children
151
Faith in Fathers
169
Machines for the Molecule
185
The Phantom Mutation
215
Deep Time
237
Acknowledgments
253
Copyright

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About the author (2007)

Edward Ball was born in Savannah, Georgia; graduated from Brown University; and was a writer for The Village Voice. His first book, Slaves in the Family, won the National Book Award. He is also the author of The Sweet Hell Inside.

Bibliographic information