29 July 2019

Book Review: Tracing Your Ancestors Using DNA, and more

This 2019 book by British, mainly Scottish authors aims at the beginner to intermediate genetic genealogy reader.

The contents are:
Chapter 1 Why use DNA testing for genealogy?
Michelle Leonard, Alasdair F Macdonald, Graham S. Holton
Chapter 2 The ethical and legal aspects of genetic genealogy
John Cleary
Chapter 3 Understanding the principles of DNA testing for genealogy Michelle Leonard
Chapter 4 atDNA tests
Michelle Leonard
Chapter 5 Y-DNA tests
Alasdair F. Macdonald, John Cleary
Chapter 6 mtDNA tests
Alasdair F Macdonald
Chapter 7 Choosing between testing companies
Alasdair F Macdonald
Chapter 8 Projects
John Cleary, Iain McDonald
Chapter 9 An integrated approach to DNA testing for genealogy
John Cleary, Iain McDonald, Graham S. Holton
Chapter 10
Ancient DNA
John Cleary
Chapter 11 What does the future hold?
Iain McDonald, Michelle Leonard
Further Reading

Of the authors John Cleary and Michelle Leonard are well known to genetic genealogists in Britain and more broadly through their presentations available on YouTube, the latest being here and here.

The book has been reviewed by Chris Paton at British GENES and Peter Calver on his Lost Cousins Newsletter. They both give it a thumbs up. I agree and recommend the book. As with all rapidly developing fields, there is dated material — for instance, AncestryDNA no longer provides DNA Circles.

While reading this book I've also had at hand Advanced Genetic Genealogy, another multi-authored publication this year. The authors of Tracing Your Ancestors Using DNA are all from the UK while Advanced Genetic Genealogy has all US authors with the sole exception of Debbie Kennett's contribution of the final chapter on the Promise and Limitations of Genetic Genealogy. Further, most of the references in "Advanced" are to US articles and books whereas those in "Tracing" are UK and Ireland based. Blaine Bettinger is a notable exception in "Tracing" and while Jony Perl is not mentioned by name in the index to "Advanced" his DNA Painter and WATO are. Canada's David Pike gets a mention in both volumes.

While there is considerable overlap I was struck that while "Tracing" has several pages devoted to surname, haplogroup and geographical projects "Advanced" covers these only in the context of specific case studies. Considering the challenges of running such a project the treatment in "Tracing" is welcome.

Three chapters in "Advanced" are in a section titled DNA and the Genealogical Proof Standard whereas the GPS is not mentioned in "Tracing" reflecting its tenuous foothold outside the US.

Blaine Bettinger has posted on Facebook on the updates made to his book "The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy" in the 2nd Edition:
- 32 additional pages: edition #1 is 240 pages, edition #2 is 272 pages.
- Fixed typos/errors found in edition #1.
- Added information about MyHeritage DNA throughout the book.
- Added information about Living DNA throughout the book.
- A new section about law enforcement and DNA.
- Entirely revised atDNA chapter (including a two-page sidebar about “False Positives and Small Segments, an update on the Shared cM Project, more about shared matching, and more).
- A section in the Y-DNA chapter about the Big Y-700 test.
- A new “DNA in Action” section in the X-Chromosome chapter.
- A new section about DNA Painter (6 pages).
- Extensive additions to the Ethnicity chapter, including a new section about AncestryDNA’s Genetic Communities.
- New sections in the “Analyzing Complex Questions With DNA” chapter and the “Genetic Testing for Adoption and Other Brick Walls” chapter about shared match triangulation.
- A fully revamped/revised “Choosing a DNA Test” flowchart.
- A fully revamped/revised “Testing Company Comparison” chart.
- A relationship chart for determining cousins (what is a 2nd cousin versus a 1st cousin once removed?). Although not new, very helpful for DNA analysis.
- New genealogy charts found at the end of the book.
- A revised “More Resources” section.
Here's a link to the pre-order page for the second edition (not an affiliate link): https://www.amazon.com/Family-Guide-Testing-Genetic-Genealogy/dp/1440300577

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