Sunday, 16 October 2016

Book Review: The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy

I've been looking forward to reading Blaine Bettinger's new book The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy since it was announced, and especially since I saw the table of contents. I've suggested in presentations it will be the one to read for the beginner and more advanced genetic genealogist, mostly based on Blaine Bettinger's reputation.
The contents are:
Part One: Getting Started – Genetic Genealogy Basics; Common Misconceptions; and Ethics and Genetic Genealogy
Part Two: Selecting a Test – Mitochondrial-DNA (mtDNA) Testing; Y-Chromosomal (Y-DNA) Testing; Autosomal-DNA (atDNA) Testing; and X-Chromosomal (X-DNA) Testing
Part Three: Analyzing and Applying Test Results – Third-Party Autosomal-DNA Tools; Ethnicity Estimates; Analyzing Complex Questions with DNA; Genetic Testing for Adoptees; and The Future of Genetic Genealogy
Appendices – Comparison Guides; Research Forms; and More Resources.

I purchased the Kindle edition which became available on the official publication date. It certainly lives up to all my expectations. The Kindle edition has the benefit that the web links are clickable. A lot of work appears to have gone into making the text readable.

Part One gives the basics, for those thinking about testing. Addressing misconceptions up front is helpful. While I don't quarrel with the section on ethnics philosophers do differ on whether there is such a thing as universal ethics or whether they are ultimately situational (lifeboat ethics). The 12 Genetic Genealogy Standards were developed by a group of US genetic genealogists. Those from non-western cultures may differ.
Part Two is for those selecting a test and examining the basic results. The section on autosomal DNA is the longest not counting the separate section on X-DNA, Next longest is the Y-DNA section, 88% of the length of the autosomal section. The section on mtDNA is the shortest (62%). Each section ends with a summary of core concepts and examples of DNA in action.
Part Three, Analyzing and Applying Test Results, is mainly for the more advanced genetic genealogist and breaks new ground in genetic genealogy books. Nothing is perfect, particularly predictions, and I was surprised to see no mentioned of the People of the British Isles and similar projects.
Having the Kindle edition makes it easy to search, and gives an objective (statistical) view of the content. 
Family Tree DNA144

The bottom line; this is now the book I recommend for the genetic genealogist, beginner to expert.

1 comment:

Mike More said...

Thanks for the review, John. Let me put in a plug for the OGS Conference in Ottawa in June 2017 where Blaine Bettinger will be speaking: