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DNA USA: A Genetic Portrait of America (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 21. Mai 2013

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  • Taschenbuch: 369 Seiten
  • Verlag: Liveright Publishing Corporation; Auflage: 1 (21. Mai 2013)
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ISBN-10: 0871403587
  • ISBN-13: 978-0871403582
  • Größe und/oder Gewicht: 14,7 x 2,8 x 22,9 cm
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 4.0 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (1 Kundenrezension)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 414.154 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)

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"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 Travels With Charley meets The Double Helix." -- Abigail Meisel "As the author of The Seven Daughters of Eve 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." -- Tina Hesman Saey "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." "Starred review. Sykes combines history, science, travel and memoir in one grand exposition of what it means to be an 'American.'" "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." -- Donna Seaman

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

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 (, 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.


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Did you ever wonder where America's genetic heritage came from? I remember years ago asking a representative of an Indian organization if anyone know just what proportion of America's ancestry Indians provided. She did not know but "DNA USA" gives us a hint at the answer to this and other questions.

Author Bryan Sykes explains the science of DNA, as to how it is tested, what it can tell and some interesting facts regarding how we came to be who we are. That ground work having been laid, Sykes takes us through his investigations of various regional ethnic groups, including Indians, white New Englanders, white Southerners and African-Americans, testing their paternal, maternal and composite genetic maps.

The author arrives at some interesting conclusions. Many people have diverse backgrounds. Many Indians find that they have more African and European DNA than Indian. Most African-Americans have some European DNA and among American whites, African DNA is most commonly found among Southerners and least often among the descendents of New England colonialists. The ultimate conclusion is that group identities are really fictions imposed on people of generally diverse genetic backgrounds.

I find the topic of the book to be very interesting although at times the science gets a bit hard to follow. Sykes raises questions about the use of DNA both for possible social purposes and for medical treatment, particularly that fine tuned to presumed racial variables. If you wish to delve into this new frontier in scientific/social research "DNA USA" is a good place to start.
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History based upon the language of the genes 4. Dezember 2013
Von Amazon Customer - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch
This book changes our understanding of history, and history buffs will find it rewarding, so long as they don’t mind revising long-held views. Bryan Sykes uses the record of the past written in DNA – ““the language of the genes” -- to trace human settlement and the blending of different ancestries to create modern America. Sykes is professor of human genetics at Oxford and one of the world’s leading genetic anthropologists.

Genetic history starts in the original ancestral homelands from which Americans have come. Anthropologists have debated for generations about how long ago the first migrants arrived in America. Genetics provides a new type of evidence about that arrival. DNA in bones and teeth can survive for thousands of years, even if not completely intact.

Genetic reconstruction of the past relies on a much simpler piece of DNA than a complete genome: mitochondrial DNA (mDNA), which have qualities making them most useful in exploring human evolution. This mDNA is inherited down only one line of ancestors – from mothers -- so every man, woman and child’s mDNA is inherited from his or her mother, who inherits it from her mother.

Sykes explains that individual mDNA sequences tend to fall into distinct clusters, and each cluster has one matrilineal ancestor. In Sykes’ earlier book, The Seven Daughters of Eve, he concludes that there are seven clusters among Europeans. This means native Europeans are almost all descended from only seven women whom, Sykes calculated, lived between 10,000-45,000 years ago.

Sykes’ analysis of mDNA indicates Native Americans did not descend from a single migration of a small band of people but from four founding mothers between 15,800 -19,600 years ago. Three of the clusters had similar sequences, but the fourth was more distinct. Clusters A,C & D originated in northeast Asia in present day Siberia, where A,C & D are common -- but cluster B isn’t found. The Siberians originated in Central Asia, not from China.

Cluster B is not found among the Eskimo, but is common among the Natives from Central and South America, as well as in North America from Vancouver Island south. B shares maternal ancestry with the Polynesians of the Cook Islands. The first Polynesians came to the Cook Islands across the Pacific from the Indonesian islands about 3,000 years ago. The founder population was from Taiwan, and Founding mother B arrived in America by boat across the Pacific.

Several years after the discovery of four main clusters, signs of a fifth were found among some American Indian tribes; it was dubbed Cluster X and the mystery is its origin. Cluster X has its highest frequency among the Ojibwa, but is also found among the Sioux, the Yakima and the Navajo. Cluster X has been in America for 15,800 years. It is found only in North America, but not in Alaska or Siberia. Cluster X is found, however, in Europe where it’s a minor cluster, averaging five percent.

European ancestry was also indicated by the discovery in 1998 of a 9,300-year-old skeleton at Kennewick, Washington, whose skull and reconstructed face appeared European, bearing an uncanny resemblance to the British actor Patrick Stewart; no DNA was recovered, however.

One barrier to genetic testing is that Native American tradition teaches they have always lived here, so research suggesting they descended from migrants challenges their sacred traditions. This had led to Native American resistance to such DNA research using their DNA.

Speaking of sacred cows, Sykes tiptoes around the touchy issue of race and genetics. He can’t very well deny that race and ethnicity have something to do with genes, yet he resists any genetic definition of race.

“After all,” he writes, “it is true that most African-Americans do carry more African DNA than European Americans. And Ashkenazi Jews are more likely to be members of the clan of Katrine than the average native European. But the correspondence is far too weak in individual cases for accurate assignment.” Sykes concludes that he had “not gotten anywhere near ‘solving” the relationship between genetics and race. There is no “solution.” (pgs. 304, 316)

Suspicions about racial definitions have prevented the kind of genetic solution to sickle cell anemia that has worked so well with Tay-Sachs in the USA. One in 500 black babies in the US is born with sickle-cell disease. Genetic screening could greatly reduce the disease, as it has with Tay-Sachs disease among American Jews.

DNA USA contains a variety of fascinating findings such as these:

• Whites from New England typically had no ancestry from Asia or Africa, while whites from the South often had some African roots.

• African-Americans have much less uniform profiles than the whites, with all African-American volunteers showing some European and Native American ancestries.

• The genetic bedrock of the British Isles is fundamentally Celtic overlaid with a thin topsoil of Saxons and Vikings, nowhere more than 20 percent.

• Most diseases with a genetic component have many genes involved; e.g. there is no single asthma gene. On the other hand, asthma is far more frequent among Puerto Ricans than Mexicans, suggesting the possibility that genetic differences matter.

• The controversy about whether Thomas Jefferson fathered a child with his slave, Sally Hemmings, was settled in 1998 by comparing the Y chromosome in descendants of Sally’s son with the Y from Jefferson’s male descendants and finding a match.

• Ninety-seven percent of African Americans have inherited an African mitochondrial lineage from their mothers. By contrast, about 50 percent of African-American men have a European Y chromosome. The Y is inherited from male ancestors.

• Mexican men typically have mDNA from one of the Native American clans, but more than half also carry a distinctly European Y chromosome.

• “Mitrochondrial Eve” is the woman from whom we are all maternally descended. She lived about 170,000 years ago in East Africa. Though she had counterparts, she is the only woman to have matrilineal descendants who survived to today.

• Indian tribes typically define membership by “blood quantum,” i.e. by having a certain percentage of Indian ancestry to qualify, with each tribe deciding the percentage. They seek genealogical evidence, but reject genetic testing. Overall, however, the American genealogy community has quickly embraced genetics. Genealogy focuses on the Y chromosome.

Speaking of genealogy, Sykes has started a for-profit firm, "Discover your ancestral mother," he advertises. For $220 he'll trace your DNA (actually, a particular set of your specialized mitochondrial DNA) back to one of the seven Stone Age women who are the ancestors in the all-female line of 95 percent of all white Europeans.

Genetic evidence contradicts tribal traditions and other inveterate beliefs, but it allows us a more accurate view of history. ###
6 von 6 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Of interest to those who follow DNA discoveries 4. Dezember 2013
Von Amazon Customer - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
Having read Bryan Sykes previous books, I find this closer in narrative style to his first book,
Seven Daughters, and thus more interesting to read than later books laden with DNA statistics.
However, it is also more like a travelogue of his trip across USA and not as absorbing to those of us
who are already familiar with travel across the country.
4 von 4 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Very interesting review of American genetics 12. Juli 2013
Von William Evenson - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
This is a nicely written and interesting review of patterns of genetics in America. Perhaps the best feature of this book is the innovative data visualization scheme showing dna patterns with examples from different ethnic groups. Thus one can see at a glance the relative influence of different ancestries, e.g. northern European, African, etc, in modern Americans.
3 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
DNA USA Review 11. April 2014
Von Cricket - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
The title of this book caught my immediate attention. I have read The Seven Daughter's of Eve; Adam's Curse; and Saxons, Vikings, and Celts. I find Bryan Sykes to be an excellent author, combining fact with history and even humor. He is able to choose from the importance of his research, yet able to make it understandable for the "average" person. I find his subjects extremely interesting and want to know still more. I will purchase every book he writes!
7 von 9 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Good but uneven 25. April 2014
Von John D. - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
DNA USA has a lot of interesting information, but is more limited than the title suggests. Part of the book is a travelogue of the author's train trip across the US. A good deal is about Native Americans (Indians), which notes that most Native Americans have some European DNA, but probably via Siberia, not from prehistoric immigration directly from Europe. There are also studies of African-American and Jewish Americans.. There are interesting chapters on the Scottish clans, though this is not directly connected to the USA. As far as DNA testing of Americans of European descent, the author mostly concentrated on New England blue-bloods, a tiny and intermarried minority even in New England. There was little from the "heartland" of the mid-west and very little from the South, which might reveal a large Scottish, Scotch-Irish,and Welsh content. Other melting pots like Pennsylvania or New Jersey are also neglected The other fault is the author's constant need to be politically correct, for fear of offending various minority groups . Nonetheless, and interesting read but only a beginning of "a genetic portrati of America" -- we do not yet have a wide study of DNA USA
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