Synopses & Reviews
The best-selling author of The Seven Daughters of Eve 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, Sykes takes us on a historical genetic tour, interviewing genealogists, research anthropologists, celebrities, and average Americans with compelling ancestral stories. 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 an American.
"It may seem odd for the author of a book on human genetics and heredity to thank his travel agent in the acknowledgments, but in the case of this hybrid work of science and cross-country reportage it's a fitting gesture... Sykes writes lucidly, creating his own unique mixture in a book that might be described as meets ." Abigail Meisel
"As the author of and other books, Sykes is an old hand at writing about genetics for the general public. His experience shows as he deftly introduces highly technical information in reader-friendly ways... During his journey, Sykes encounters people who embrace DNA testing as a way to clear up messy genealogical records. He also meets skeptics, who see the technology as a way to discredit their cultural heritage. Sykes doesn't shy away from these criticisms, presenting a well-balanced view of the disparate attitudes." New York Times Book Review
"An authority on ancient DNA analysis, Sykes provides a nontechnical introduction to how Y chromosomes and mitochondrial DNA may be used to reveal ancestral heritage. Combining in-depth interviews with volunteers along with these genetic techniques, he attempts to create a biological portrait of the United States. ... These DNA portraits illustrate the complexity of human inheritance and how difficult it is to assign individuals to distinct groups." Tina Hesman Saey ScienceNews
"Starred review. Sykes combines history, science, travel and memoir in one grand exposition of what it means to be an “American.” In a graceful text, the author delivers rich images of the American landscape, conversations with strangers, and historic asides on the waves of immigration, the Indian diasporas and the various federal laws that shaped the movements of people across the continent. ...Sykes should also be applauded for his skills as a storyteller, science expositor, travel companion and compassionate human being." Library Journal
"Starred review. Human genetics energetically elucidated, entertaining travel writing, the fascinating personal stories of DNA volunteers, and Sykes' candid musings on his awakening to the complex emotional and social implications of hidden biological inheritances make for a milestone book guaranteed to ignite spirited discussion." Library Journal
Crisscrossing the continent, a renowned geneticist provides a groundbreaking examination of America through its DNA.
Bryan Sykes, one of the world's leading geneticists and best-selling author of , sets his sights on America, one of the most genetically variegated countries in the world. Sykes embarks on a road trip--DNA testing kit in tow--interviewing genealogists, anthropologists, and everyday Americans, tracing America's history along a double helix that stretches from the last Ice Age to the present day. What emerges is an unprecedented look into America's genetic mosaic that challenges the very notion of how we perceive race and what it means to be an American.
About the Author
Bryan Sykes, professor of human genetics at Oxford University, pioneered the use of DNA in exploring the human past. He is also the founder and chairman of Oxford Ancestors (oxfordancestors.com), which helps individuals explore their genetic roots using DNA. He is the author of Saxons, Vikings, and Celts; The Seven Daughters of Eve, a New York Times bestseller; and Adam's Curse.