Book Review: The Family Tree Guide To DNA Testing And Genetic Genealogy

The Family Tree Guide To DNA Testing And Genetic Genealogy, by Blaine T. Bettinger

The world of genetic genealogy is one that is changing rapidly and has over the past few years and it is hard to imagine that this is actually the second edition of this particular book, but this particular publisher has been quick to publish material. While I have read other material from this particular series before and been less impressed with it, this book is a solid one that provides good information for those looking to introduce themselves to genetic genealogy. I was pleased in reading this book that I was familiar with most of it already, as I was wondering if there were large sections of the field that I was missing and that did not prove to be the case. This particular book discusses quite a few areas of genetic genealogy that might be of interest, and its broad focus is something that many people will likely find to be interesting. Of course, the fact that it discusses genetic genealogy means that it seeks to use genetic information to supplement traditional genealogy means it focuses on those elements that allow one to gain genealogically useful information.

This book is a reasonably sized book at about 250 pages or so, with three parts and twelve chapters. The book begins with an introduction by the author into the fast-changing field of genetic genealogy. After that the first part of the book talks about how one gets started in the field (I), with basics on genetic genealogy (1), some common misconceptions and DNA myths (2), and a discussion of the matter of ethics in the field (3). This is followed by a look at the selection of which tests to do (II), including autosomal testing (4), Y-DNA testing (5), mitochondrial testing (6), and X-chromosomal testing (7), all of which offer different information that focuses on different parts of one’s family history. The third part of the book then discusses analyzing and applying test results (III), in such areas as looking at third-party autosomal DNA tools (8), dealing with ethnicity estimates (9), analyzing complex questions (including brick walls) with DNA (10), genetic testing to solve questions of birth family for adoptees (11), and the future of genetic genealogy (12). There follows a glossary as well as appendices looking at comparison guides (i), research forms (ii), and more resources (iii), as well as an index.

Overall, this is a good book. The fact that this book is a second edition signifies that the publisher is interested in keeping abreast of new developments in the field and also keeping track of what options are available for those looking to use genetic testing as a means of better understanding their family history. We can assume that as companies add options and as more companies seek to enter into this crowded field that this book will receive further updates, just as it has taken note of the mergers that have happened as well. To be sure, there is more information that one would want, and it is to the author’s credit that the focus is on matches and finding relatives rather than on dealing with the speculations on ancestry that one tends to find as a large part of the sales pitch of these genetic testing companies. While there is always going to be an interest on my side for more information, this is a book that manages to convey its information well. It is by no means a book written with a lot of flair, but this is a competent book to be sure and one that is easy to appreciate and to use profitably.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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