An indispensable resource for understanding the complex world of over-the-counter genetic testing.

DNA NATION

HOW THE INTERNET OF GENES IS CHANGING YOUR LIFE

A guide focuses on direct-to-consumer genetics and the genomic social network.  

Pistoi (Il DNA Incontra Facebook, 2012) begins this edifying work with an exploration of his own DNA. He fills a test tube with spit and sends it off to 23andme.com, a company that offers direct-to-consumer genetic services. For the price of $99, he will learn about his own genetic profile. The author admits that, as someone who has studied the genetic material of other people for years (he holds a Ph.D. in molecular biology), it feels a bit strange for him to be looking at an analysis of his own. Yet this is the state of present-day technology. Consumers who pay for such a process can join a social network of genetic relatives, discover common ancestors, and even delve into more esoteric topics like the idea of following diets based on their DNA. Of course, this all comes with a price, whether it is the complications of genetic privacy or unscrupulous businesses attempting to cash in on ideas without a lot of scientific backing. In the end, Pistoi warns that, though the technology is thrilling, “genetics is not destiny and DNA is not prophecy.” The manual strikes a highly readable balance between excitement and caution. Although readers initially get more detail about the specifics of the author’s spitting into a tube than they may have bargained for (“My spit tube is only half full and my salivary glands are already dry”), the impressive book explores territory that is both easy to understand and enlightening. From a discussion of alleles (“Each allele is a different flavour of the same gene that exist in a population…we inherit two alleles of each gene and their combination affects our traits”) to describing the ways in which genetic testing can aid law enforcement, topics are underscored with useful information. For instance, on the ever controversial subject of race, Pistoi points out that the concept is generally understood to be a social construct. As the author notes about genetic markers in different populations, “none is found only in one or another, making it impossible to establish any category that is remotely scientifically accurate.” What then, can be gleaned from human DNA? A lot of illuminating things, it turns out, but certainly not everything.  

An indispensable resource for understanding the complex world of over-the-counter genetic testing.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-909979-90-1

Page Count: 262

Publisher: Crux Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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NUTCRACKER

This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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