Jennifer Reese
November 02, 2007 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Genetic Strand

Current Status
In Season
Edward Ball
Nonfiction, Science and Technology, History

We gave it a B-

Rifling through a desk owned by his Southern forebears, Edward Ball found packets of their hair stowed away in the 19th century. So he brought samples to a lab and began to ferret out family mysteries through DNA analysis. Was, say, one of his great-grandparents black? It seems like a terrific premise for Ball, who outed ancestral secrets in his award-winning Slaves in the Family, and appears poised to make further revelations in The Genetic Strand. But while he writes lucidly about the science of DNA, he finds little drama in his own genes, leaving him without a powerful narrative hook. B-

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