She Has Her Mother's Laugh
Carl Zimmer presents a history of our understanding of heredity in this sweeping, resonating overview of a force that shaped human society--a force set to shape our future even more radically.She Has Her Mother's Laugh presents a profoundly original perspective on what we pass along from generation to generation. Charles Darwin played a crucial part in turning heredity into a scientific question, and yet he failed spectacularly to answer it. The birth of genetics in the early 1900s seemed to do precisely that. Gradually, people translated their old notions about heredity into a language of genes. As the technology for studying genes became cheaper, millions of people ordered genetic tests to link themselves to missing parents, to distant ancestors, to ethnic identities. . . .But, Zimmer writes, "Each of us carries an amalgam of fragments of DNA, stitched together from some of our many ancestors. Each piece has its own ancestry, traveling a different path back through human history. A particular fragment may sometimes be cause for worry, but most of our DNA influences who we are--our appearance, our height, our penchants--in inconceivably subtle ways." Heredity isn't just about genes that pass from parent to child. Heredity continues within our own bodies, as a single cell gives rise to trillions of cells that make up our bodies. We say we inherit genes from our ancestors--using a word that once referred to kingdoms and estates--but we inherit other things that matter as much or more to our lives, from microbes to technologies we use to make life more comfortable. We need a new definition of what heredity is and, through Carl Zimmer's lucid exposition and storytelling, this resounding tour de force delivers it. Weaving historical and current scientific research, his own experience with his two daughters, and the kind of original reporting expected of one of the world's best science journalists, Zimmer ultimately unpacks urgent bioethical quandaries arising from new biomedical technologies, but also long-standing presumptions about who we really are and what we can pass on to future generations.

She Has Her Mother's Laugh Details

TitleShe Has Her Mother's Laugh
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMay 29th, 2018
PublisherDutton
ISBN-139781101984598
Rating
GenreScience, Nonfiction, Biology, Genetics, Evolution

She Has Her Mother's Laugh Review

  • Paul
    January 1, 1970
    Yes, it's long – about 540 or so actual pages of text, followed by a glossary, bibliography and endnotes – but She Has Her Mother's Laugh does not waste a single page. Carl Zimmer has produced a masterpiece of science writing, distilling incredibly complex concepts into understandable and relatable language by using narrative journalism and personal anecdotes to perfect effect. Any questions you've had about DNA, genes, inheritance, and the moral and ethical questions surrounding them will be an Yes, it's long – about 540 or so actual pages of text, followed by a glossary, bibliography and endnotes – but She Has Her Mother's Laugh does not waste a single page. Carl Zimmer has produced a masterpiece of science writing, distilling incredibly complex concepts into understandable and relatable language by using narrative journalism and personal anecdotes to perfect effect. Any questions you've had about DNA, genes, inheritance, and the moral and ethical questions surrounding them will be answered – as will numerous other questions you didn't realize you had. Zimmer leaves no topic unexplored, from history to the future, from eugenics to in vitro fertilization, from cancer to evolution. It's all there, and it's all tremendous. I found exactly zero weaknesses in this book, and highly recommend it to anyone wanting to expand their knowledge about how they got here and where we all are going.
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  • Pam Mooney
    January 1, 1970
    An amazing and well researched book. Takes us through the history and research of heredity from first works to today. It was so interesting to know where we started and how little we knew about heredity not that long ago. Some scientific researchers got it right and others drew wrong conclusions which may be forgivable for the time period but caused so much harm. There were certainly many ethical dilemmas that came in strong. Although it includes studies and scientific outcomes it is easy to rea An amazing and well researched book. Takes us through the history and research of heredity from first works to today. It was so interesting to know where we started and how little we knew about heredity not that long ago. Some scientific researchers got it right and others drew wrong conclusions which may be forgivable for the time period but caused so much harm. There were certainly many ethical dilemmas that came in strong. Although it includes studies and scientific outcomes it is easy to read and understand the works and conclusions presented. This is an all inclusive study in who we are where we come from and how our genes and environment come together to make us who we are. Engaging - as it made me look at my own family and especially siblings to observe what traits we share with each other and our parents. This is the rare book for me that would get 100 out of 10 stars as where else would you get so much information in an easily read storytelling format in one book? I could open this book in any place randomly and follow the topic at hand immediately. A good read.
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  • Dramatika
    January 1, 1970
    What a brilliant earth shuttering book! The staff good science fiction is made of except happening IRL now as we live. So many amazing new ideas and facts, I was forced to stop reading and just contemplate and share with friends and family what I read. I'm not very good at science, although love reading pop science books and magazines, yet this book was quite accessible even to someone with barely passable grade in biology class. I would love to thank the author for the wonderful experience of r What a brilliant earth shuttering book! The staff good science fiction is made of except happening IRL now as we live. So many amazing new ideas and facts, I was forced to stop reading and just contemplate and share with friends and family what I read. I'm not very good at science, although love reading pop science books and magazines, yet this book was quite accessible even to someone with barely passable grade in biology class. I would love to thank the author for the wonderful experience of reading this great book!
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  • Gary
    January 1, 1970
    Heredity is the sum of all the previous environments and the current environment we were thrown into. Who we are as a species and as individuals is far more complicated than just our genes. Mendel’s law is a suggestion more than a law. This book lays the ground work for each of those assertions and steps the listener through some of the history of our understanding of the subject and reviews some of the current new research that has been transpiring over the last five years or so. Humans are spe Heredity is the sum of all the previous environments and the current environment we were thrown into. Who we are as a species and as individuals is far more complicated than just our genes. Mendel’s law is a suggestion more than a law. This book lays the ground work for each of those assertions and steps the listener through some of the history of our understanding of the subject and reviews some of the current new research that has been transpiring over the last five years or so. Humans are special: we culturally pass on racism, bigotry, misogyny and superstition mimetically. The racist premises in the ‘Bell Curve’ or Nicholas Wade’s last book are best ignored rather than refuted since they are groundless. The author doesn’t mention either book or author but he does spend a lot of time refuting their absurdities inherent in their deterministic genetic fallacies. Racist and their ilk are going to hate. They will always have their reasons for hating the other just for the sake of making themselves appear superior to themselves and their select cohorts. Science has moved past that trash type thinking and this book lays out the case with fairly familiar concepts and stories. Most of what was in this book seemed to have been in other books that I’ve read recently, and the parts that weren’t in the other books I’ve already read about in Science News or Scientific American. For those who are still in a ‘nature v. nurture’ deterministic paradigm and think biology through genes alone determines destiny this book will give them the background they need to move ahead. For all others, who realize that heredity is dependent on all of our previous environments (both as a species and as individuals and within the genome, the cells, the womb and the polis) and our current environment and experiences this book will be mostly superfluous since that is the main theme for this book.
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  • Ernst Hafen
    January 1, 1970
    A fascinating journey through the multi-facetted biological basis, historical and societal impact of heredity; from Aristotle to plant and animal breeders in the 18th and 19th century to Darwin, Mendel, eugenics, pre-implantation diagnostics and CRISPR/Cas. Carl Zimmer tells the story not in a chronological way but in different vignettes of researchers that are careful, struggle with or are too confident about their discoveries. The book reads or is listened to easily. Zimmer reduces scientific A fascinating journey through the multi-facetted biological basis, historical and societal impact of heredity; from Aristotle to plant and animal breeders in the 18th and 19th century to Darwin, Mendel, eugenics, pre-implantation diagnostics and CRISPR/Cas. Carl Zimmer tells the story not in a chronological way but in different vignettes of researchers that are careful, struggle with or are too confident about their discoveries. The book reads or is listened to easily. Zimmer reduces scientific jargon to a minimum. We will chose this book for the elective bookclub with our first semester biology students at ETH. It is an excellent alternative the equally fascinating book by Siddhartha Mukherjee The Gene - An Intimate History which we used in the previous years.
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  • Polo Lonergan
    January 1, 1970
    Parts of this book are interesting. Parts are excrutiatingly dry. It felt like it took me forever to slog through the ending.
  • Mehrsa
    January 1, 1970
    If you haven't been following or reading any news on genetics research, then this is an excellent primer, but if you do follow the science pages, there isn't much that is new in here. It's all interesting, but it's written by a reporter on science so none of it is firsthand research and the book isn't coherent enough to be memorable
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  • Dlmrose
    January 1, 1970
    3+
  • Yaaresse
    January 1, 1970
    4.5, rounding up. This is the most interesting book I've read this year. Zimmer provides a basic history of genetics, the theories and research, that sets the groundwork for discussing the biotech advances of recent years and all the accompanying ethical and legal challenges. He has a way of explaining complex scientific processes in plain English without being condescending and of adding interest with anecdotes without making it all about himself or succumbing to the melodramatic. While interes 4.5, rounding up. This is the most interesting book I've read this year. Zimmer provides a basic history of genetics, the theories and research, that sets the groundwork for discussing the biotech advances of recent years and all the accompanying ethical and legal challenges. He has a way of explaining complex scientific processes in plain English without being condescending and of adding interest with anecdotes without making it all about himself or succumbing to the melodramatic. While interested and excited about the science, he keeps a healthy skepticism and asks interesting questions.
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  • Jessica Howard
    January 1, 1970
    So fascinating!!
  • Ross
    January 1, 1970
    This should be required reading for anyone who uses one of those 23 and Me or AncestryDNA gene sequencing companies. The author does a nice job explaining the limitations of such knowledge - in part by exploring non-Mendelian inheritance (such as epigenetics as well as cultural and ecological inheritance).
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  • Amy C.
    January 1, 1970
    Carl Zimmer delivers a wonderful tribute to the perplexities and fascinating aspects of our DNA in this remarkably illuminating book.
  • Leo
    January 1, 1970
    Great book with numerous points of insight into modern genetics and heredity. The middle lost some momentum, but the author did a great job of finishing well and tying the whole storyline together by the end giving the read a feeling more akin to a novel rather than a textbook.
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  • Isaac Larkin
    January 1, 1970
    Beautifully written, tackles important and fascinating areas of heredity. I was surprised to learn that if you go back just a few generations, your odds of sharing *any* DNA with any particular ancestor drops to almost 0 (and if you go back just a few thousand years, then every human being alive then is either every living person's direct ancestor, or no one's. Zimmer also does a good job of tackling the ways in which the study of inheritance has been misused, from the eugenics movement to scien Beautifully written, tackles important and fascinating areas of heredity. I was surprised to learn that if you go back just a few generations, your odds of sharing *any* DNA with any particular ancestor drops to almost 0 (and if you go back just a few thousand years, then every human being alive then is either every living person's direct ancestor, or no one's. Zimmer also does a good job of tackling the ways in which the study of inheritance has been misused, from the eugenics movement to scientific racism to general questions of genetics and intelligence.I found the entire section on embryonic development, mosaicism and chimeras astounding. It's fascinating to think that somatic cells from children end up populating and contributing to their mother's body.And finally, the book closes with an excellent survey of the ways in which science and technology are beginning to control and alter inheritance, from genetic engineering and CRISPR to stem cells and preimplantation genetic diagnosis, and finally CRISPR gene drives.
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  • Gerard Villegas
    January 1, 1970
    After reading this, I'm gonna clone myself with my DNA or create a homonculous to help restart humanity. Lord knows we need it
  • Nazia Naz
    January 1, 1970
    The given title she has her mothers laugh attracted me I want to read it.
  • Rāhul
    January 1, 1970
    The secrets of heredity have always fascinated human beings. Scientific pursuit of the manipulation of the odds of heredity among domestic plants and animals, as well as the works of Lamark, Darwin others, offering theories behind the rules codified by Mendel, led also to efforts by eugenicists to "elevate" humanity by controlling the ability of humans to reproduce ourselves. Carl Zimmer writes this engaging book about heredity and our enduring interest in it. With the discovery of DNA, the idea The secrets of heredity have always fascinated human beings. Scientific pursuit of the manipulation of the odds of heredity among domestic plants and animals, as well as the works of Lamark, Darwin others, offering theories behind the rules codified by Mendel, led also to efforts by eugenicists to "elevate" humanity by controlling the ability of humans to reproduce ourselves. Carl Zimmer writes this engaging book about heredity and our enduring interest in it. With the discovery of DNA, the idea of genetics and Darwinian survival of the fittest seemed to have emerged as the only viable theory of heredity in the mid 20th century. However, Zimmer goes on to chronicle recent findings of the importance of epigenetics- impacts of modifications to gene expression in an organism rather than just the genetic code they are born with, which harken back to ideas of "perfectibility" within an individual rather than based just on affecting the odds of gene selection between generations. Genetic engineering has also advanced to the point where CRISPR, a technique derived from gene-repair, allows genome edits at the levels of individual genes, and "gene drives" artificially engineered into an organism can be designed to pass some genes on to subsequent generations with disproportionate selection and rapidly overwhelm the population. Zimmer also touches on ancient DNA and population genetics, as well as variations in traits like height and "General Intelligence" between human population groups but those sections are less impressive, and better done elsewhere. Overall, this book is entertaining and informative, and also important in a time when genetic engineering is beginning to impact many aspects of human health and reproduction.
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  • Colleen
    January 1, 1970
    Amazing. I'd read The Gene: an Intimate History by Mukherjee and Genome: an autobiography of a species in 23 chapters, by Matt Ridley, so I was familiar with some of the things discussed in this book, but there were still things I hadn't encountered. at over 500 pages it is a fairly hefty book , and thorough, but not exhaustive. I found myself looking for more information on tantalizing stories he'd briefly mentioned. It is an overview, really, with good science anchored by human stories and wel Amazing. I'd read The Gene: an Intimate History by Mukherjee and Genome: an autobiography of a species in 23 chapters, by Matt Ridley, so I was familiar with some of the things discussed in this book, but there were still things I hadn't encountered. at over 500 pages it is a fairly hefty book , and thorough, but not exhaustive. I found myself looking for more information on tantalizing stories he'd briefly mentioned. It is an overview, really, with good science anchored by human stories and welll worth a read. The mother who delivers a baby and a genetic test in the delivery room says it isn't hers, the parents who lose their daughter in a car accident and harvest her eggs, the mosquito altered by man and able to pass those alterations on through wild mosquitoes. If these stories sound intriguing, give this book a try, you won't be disappointed
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  • Hannah Klein
    January 1, 1970
    I had to read this book because of the title, but it turned out quite fascinating despite my judging it by its cover. I learned several things I didn't know about the history of genetics and our study of heredity. It might be a little science jargon heavy for people who haven't done some prior genetics reading.
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  • Karen
    January 1, 1970
    Quite the undertaking but well worth it! It’s extremely accessible - I’m even considering recommending it to my mom who is “allergic” to science terminology.I did find one strange error that I’m shocked the editor missed - there’s a chapter in which Zimmer is talking about “dwarves.” The correct term is “dwarfs.” Dwarves are mystical fantasy creatures the likes of which Tolkien and others write about. Dwarfs, also known as little people (often the preferred term), is the plural of “dwarf.” I hop Quite the undertaking but well worth it! It’s extremely accessible - I’m even considering recommending it to my mom who is “allergic” to science terminology.I did find one strange error that I’m shocked the editor missed - there’s a chapter in which Zimmer is talking about “dwarves.” The correct term is “dwarfs.” Dwarves are mystical fantasy creatures the likes of which Tolkien and others write about. Dwarfs, also known as little people (often the preferred term), is the plural of “dwarf.” I hope it’s fixed in the next edition.
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  • Ellen
    January 1, 1970
    Great science writing and very up to date with the last chapters coming right up to current events in genetics. I got the spine tingly sense that we are right in the middle of a time of radical revelations about how life works.
  • Andrew
    January 1, 1970
    Fascinating! Highly recommend.
  • Leona
    January 1, 1970
    Review of:She Has Her Mother's Laugh: The Powers, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity by Carl Zimmer (Goodreads Author) Carl Zimmer presents a history of our understanding of heredity in this sweeping, resonating overview of a force that shaped human society--a force set to shape our future even more radically.She Has Her Mother's Laugh presents a profoundly original perspective on what we pass along from generation to generation. Charles Darwin played a crucial part in turning heredity into Review of:She Has Her Mother's Laugh: The Powers, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity by Carl Zimmer (Goodreads Author) Carl Zimmer presents a history of our understanding of heredity in this sweeping, resonating overview of a force that shaped human society--a force set to shape our future even more radically.She Has Her Mother's Laugh presents a profoundly original perspective on what we pass along from generation to generation. Charles Darwin played a crucial part in turning heredity into a scientific question, and yet he failed spectacularly to answer it. The birth of genetics in the early 1900s seemed to do precisely that. Gradually, people translated their old notions about heredity into a language of genes. As the technology for studying genes became cheaper, millions of people ordered genetic tests to link themselves to missing parents, to distant ancestors, to ethnic identities. . . .But, Zimmer writes, "Each of us carries an amalgam of fragments of DNA, stitched together from some of our many ancestors. Each piece has its own ancestry, traveling a different path back through human history. A particular fragment may sometimes be cause for worry, but most of our DNA influences who we are--our appearance, our height, our penchants--in inconceivably subtle ways." Heredity isn't just about genes that pass from parent to child. Heredity continues within our own bodies, as a single cell gives rise to trillions of cells that make up our bodies. We say we inherit genes from our ancestors--using a word that once referred to kingdoms and estates--but we inherit other things that matter as much or more to our lives, from microbes to technologies we use to make life more comfortable. We need a new definition of what heredity is and, through Carl Zimmer's lucid exposition and storytelling, this resounding tour de force delivers it. Weaving historical and current scientific research, his own experience with his two daughters, and the kind of original reporting expected of one of the world's best science journalists, Zimmer ultimately unpacks urgent bioethical quandaries arising from new biomedical technologies, but also long-standing presumptions about who we really are and what we can pass on to future generations. Leona's Review:This was a very interesting read. It is a long book, 574 pages, but an easy read for the average person. For those interested in genealogy research, I think this is a must read.I received a complimentary copy from goodreads.com to read. The opinions are my own. I give this book a 5 stat rating. I gave my copy to a granddaughter who is in the medical field for neurology.I am a note taker and so I will what add some I thought are interesting and helpful suggestions for the reader.PKU Phenylketonuria is an inherited disorder that can lead to developmental delay, behavior problems and seizures. page 471Margaret Mead page 461 Homo Sapiens page 467Homo Erectus page 467Neandertals page 467Denisovans page 467Cumulative culture page 463Mitochondrial replacement page 517Human altered environment page 466Agriculture Revolution page 469Fetal alcohol page 479Human germ line engineering page 524Gene therapy page 509 replacementCloned frog before Dolly page 544Arygan race page 498Blood disorders page 5093 Parent children page 514 ooplasmMacular degeneration page 277Twins page 297Omnigenic page 304Power of the human brain Twins"Failure is common in science" page 552Mendel's Law Mosaics page 350Mosaic neurons page 369Memories store in brain page 431Thyroid page 390Research in epigenetics page 436Burbank potatoes Russet potatoes page 444 Growth platesMaryland Iron Mines in 1700sScotland studyCaptain Cook page 467Nootka Vancouver Island
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  • Michel
    January 1, 1970
    تعجبني كثيرا كتب كارل زيمير.. يتحدث الكتاب عن الوراثة عند الكائنات الحية بشكل عام ويتضمن الكثير من الافكار الشيقة
  • Caitlin
    January 1, 1970
    A truly mammoth book that should have been edited down to a few hundred pages. The interesting tidbits and stories were immersed in unnecessary prose and benign chapters that served no purpose except to increase the word count. Some stories SHINED and AMAZED (especially the chapter on Chimera, which was utterly fascinating), but it’s a shame the reader has to wade through all of the weeds to discover the gems.
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  • Jason
    January 1, 1970
    While he's not as funny as Mary Roach and his anecdotes aren't as quirky as those of Sam Kean (whose book The Violinist's Thumb covers similar territory), Carl Zimmer is probably the better science journalist, writing a detailed, comprehensive look at heredity that manages to get really technical and run 500+ pages without becoming boring. Zimmer covers all the bases here, offering a pretty good survey of Darwin, Mendel, Lamarck, Goddard and a variety of other important figures in the fields of While he's not as funny as Mary Roach and his anecdotes aren't as quirky as those of Sam Kean (whose book The Violinist's Thumb covers similar territory), Carl Zimmer is probably the better science journalist, writing a detailed, comprehensive look at heredity that manages to get really technical and run 500+ pages without becoming boring. Zimmer covers all the bases here, offering a pretty good survey of Darwin, Mendel, Lamarck, Goddard and a variety of other important figures in the fields of biology, genetics, eugenics, etc. He also gives a pretty good look at the current state of the field with forays into epigenetics, CRISPR, designer genetic engineering, etc. Two of the better chapters explore genetic mosaics and chimeras respectively. Yet where the book works best is where Zimmer looks beyond traits and chromosomes at the general concept of heredity, considering the ways in which culture, power, privilege, and inequality are passed down through generations. All in all, it's a very good book: a readable, entertaining scientific tome of a lot of value.
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  • Ilya
    January 1, 1970
    This is a popular history of genetics from classical times through the twentieth century, when most of it was figured out, to the present. There is a lot of fascinating stuff for the non-biologist: a contagious tumor as an immortal life form derived from dogs; embryos giving their stem cells to mothers, who then give them to their subsequent children; a human hermaphrodite formed by the merger of a boy embryo and a girl embryo; a fish-bacteria symbiont that reproduces by having the bacteria swim This is a popular history of genetics from classical times through the twentieth century, when most of it was figured out, to the present. There is a lot of fascinating stuff for the non-biologist: a contagious tumor as an immortal life form derived from dogs; embryos giving their stem cells to mothers, who then give them to their subsequent children; a human hermaphrodite formed by the merger of a boy embryo and a girl embryo; a fish-bacteria symbiont that reproduces by having the bacteria swim and infect the fish fry; genetically engineered mosquitos carrying a molecular hack of reproduction designed to spread malaria resistance through the mosquito population; and so on.What I wish it explained clearly is the content of the article "Top 10 Replicated Findings From Behavioral Genetics" by Plomin et al. Early-twentieth-century eugenicists used too crude a model of human heredity, as Zimmer correctly points out. However, Leon Kamin, whom Zimmer praises, was wrong in the opposite direction when he claimed that the heritability of IQ is zero. In reality, all human psychological traits have heritability in the tens of percent. Christopher Hitchens wrote in Mortality, "I don't have a body, I am a body." To a large extent, one is the incorporeal instructions for building and maintaining one's body, which is to say heredity.
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  • Kelly
    January 1, 1970
    Science writing is a hard thing to do - dumb the science down too much, it becomes inaccurate, use too much jargon, and it's inaccessible to those with little background. Carl Zimmer remains my favorite science writer because of his ability to communicate complex ideas to the general public while maintaining scientific fidelity. She Has Her Mother's Laugh was a fascinating read throughout combining history, ethics, and genetics tackling race, disease, and intelligence.
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  • Robert Monk
    January 1, 1970
    A nice overview of the current state of the science of heredity. It goes through a lot of topics, the most interesting one of which was, for me, the fact that fetal stem cells go back and forth between a mother and a fetus, leading both of them to carry a bit of genetic material from the other. This happens with twins in utero, as well, which can have some odd effects on the later adults. Mr. Zimmer had his own genetics sequenced, which he used as a kind of framing device through the book, addin A nice overview of the current state of the science of heredity. It goes through a lot of topics, the most interesting one of which was, for me, the fact that fetal stem cells go back and forth between a mother and a fetus, leading both of them to carry a bit of genetic material from the other. This happens with twins in utero, as well, which can have some odd effects on the later adults. Mr. Zimmer had his own genetics sequenced, which he used as a kind of framing device through the book, adding a bit of a personal touch to it. Perhaps not something to be used as a textbook, it nonetheless makes a solid read, as Zimmer has a way with words and is good at explaining things to a novice. I enjoyed it.
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  • Justin Gaynor
    January 1, 1970
    I'm giving this three stars, but in fact I found it extremely tedious and gave up about halfway through. I recognize, however, that this is largely because my own interests are quite different from what the author was trying to accomplish; the writing and research were quite good, and if you're interested in what he chose to focus on -- some examples of actual family histories, and what he learned from his own 23andme analysis -- you'd probably enjoy this.If, on the other hand, you were hoping f I'm giving this three stars, but in fact I found it extremely tedious and gave up about halfway through. I recognize, however, that this is largely because my own interests are quite different from what the author was trying to accomplish; the writing and research were quite good, and if you're interested in what he chose to focus on -- some examples of actual family histories, and what he learned from his own 23andme analysis -- you'd probably enjoy this.If, on the other hand, you were hoping for a deep dive into the science of genes, I don't think you'll find it here.
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