This weekend I had the privilege to review an advance copy of “Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA,” a new book by author and genetic genealogist Richard Hill. The book is currently available at Amazon only in paperback (link here: Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA), although eBook versions will be available soon.
Many genetic genealogists are already familiar with Richard Hill and his website DNA-Testing-Adviser.com, where he shares information about using genetic genealogy to learn about your family, especially for adoptees and birth parents. You may also be familiar with Mr. Hill through the front-page 2009 Wall Street Journal article detailing his search for his family, or from the 2009 article in the Grand Rapids Press (“Rockford man uses DNA testing, Internet searches to find his birth father“).
Ann Turner has been a member of the genetic genealogy community since 2000, and during that time she has made great contributions to field (as will become obvious from her interview). According to her brief biography at the Journal of Genetic Genealogy:
Ann Turner is the founder of the GENEALOGY-DNA mailing list at RootsWeb and the co-author (with Megan Smolenyak) of “Trace Your Roots with DNA: Using Genetic Tests to Explore Your Family Tree.” She received her undergraduate degree in biology in 1964 and her M.D. from Stanford University in 1970. In recent years, she developed software for neuropsychological testing and wrote utility programs for the PAF genealogy program. One of these utilities provided a way to split out all people in a database who were related via their mitochondrial DNA, six years before mtDNA tests were commercially available. The inspiration for this feature came from the (then) forward-looking predictions of Dr. Thomas Roderick, now associate editor of JoGG.
Edward Ball is the author of Slaves in the Family, which won the National Book Award for Nonfiction in 1998. Mr. Ball’s latest book is the subject of this review-by-proxy (I haven’t read it myself, so I’ll be sharing what others have said).
The new book, The Genetic Strand: Exploring a Family History Through DNA, is reported to “intrigue America’s many amateur genealogists and also serve as a cautionary tale.” The book follows Ball’s journey through his family’s genetic genealogy after he discovers locks of hair in an old family desk.
Megan Smolenyak reviewed the book over a week ago at Megan’s Roots World with “The Genetic Strand: Slightly Disappointing.” Megan’s review brings up a number of points, including Ball’s failure to provide some essential information (like his family tree). One of the most interesting critiques, which was also criticized by a review in the New York Post, surrounds the following paragraph: