Tuesday, November 14, 2017

It's All Relative: Adventures Up and Down the World's Family Tree

It’s All Relative: Adventures Up and Down the World’s Family Tree  by A. J. Jacobs

    Geneology and history are kissing cousins and I’m into both (geneology and history, not kissing my cousins.)  I spent years looking for a relative for my grandpa and found a jackpot but there are still so many unanswered questions I think will never be answered.  But you move on, don’t you?
    Not our author, A. J. Jacobs.  Especially now, in our fractured, glass shard splintered finger pointing times Mr. Jacobs thought it was important to try to figure out what family really means and if we are truly all part of the same.   He began by thinking.  And then he got an email from someone in Israel telling him that Mr. Jacobs is an eighth cousin of his wife and that he, Mr. Jacobs, had 80,000 relatives and counting.  Whoa.  We had an aunt who regaled us with her ability to put people together and wasn’t afraid to tell us someone was “a second cousin twice removed” and then we’d reach for a pencil to draw that out so it made sense.  Ultimately, of course, she was right.
    Mr. Jacobs, with great wit and humor and tongue in cheek comments takes us through every possible aspect of being related, being part of this whole human family all the way back to the beginning with y-chromosome Adam and mitochondrial Eve, DNA, twins, black sheep, kissing aunts and all.  He thought it would be fun to hold the biggest family reunion ever known and registered with the Guinness people. 
    Lest you think this is a silly book, it isn’t, it’s a serious but breezy search through time and place and gene pools but our author gives us a lot of chuckles and belly laughs as he begins climbing his tree and organizing his reunion, OUR reunion.  Wasn’t it Neil Armstrong who said, “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind?”  Enter Mr. Jacobs and his quest for proving we are all family.  So, the next time someone cuts you off in traffic just remember, they’re your cousin.