Sunday, February 9, 2014

Book Review: Genetic Genealogy: The Basics and Beyond by Emily D Aulicino

 I finally gave in to temptation and ordered DNA tests for myself, my mother and my brother.  Which, of course, requires a whole new course of reading.  The announcement for this new book, Genetic Genealogy: the Basics and Beyond, hit my computer at about the same time that my test results did, so I ordered it...

I want to say I loved it.  I really do.  But unfortunately, it reads like a first draft that needs some skillful editing by someone whose expertise is technical writing rather than DNA or genealogy.

The bad:  The chapters on what DNA and DNA testing are all about are circular and unclear.  If I didn't already know something about this stuff, I'd be confused.  I was also unsettled by the fact that the first references in the book all seemed to be to wikipedia...not precisely confidence-inspiring.  Also disappointing -- the sections on chromosome mapping and phasing.  I'm still not sure what phasing is and I certainly don't know how to do it or even if I want to try.

The good: The chapters on how, exactly, to proceed with testing and what to do with your results.  They include tips on what to say in emails to matches, helpful spreadsheets and documents to manage your analysis, and even advice on how to convince people you don't know to get tested.  This sort of thing is sorely needed, and I got the sense that the author really knows her stuff.

My takeaway: I'm going to read my way through her list of suggested reading, I'm going to work through her sections on managing matches with a spreadsheet, and I'm going to suggest that we start a DNA special interest group at the library.  I'm also going to keep looking for an intro-to-DNA book to recommend to others.

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