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Unlocking Your Genetic History: A Step-by-Step Guide to Discovering Your Family's Medical and Genetic Heritage (National Genealogical Society Guides) Paperback – August 11, 2004

5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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About the Author

Thomas H. Shawker, M.D., is chief of the ultrasound section in the Imaging Sciences Program at the National Institutes of Health, a professor of radiology at the United Services University, and a fellow of the American College of Radiology. He is chairman of the National Genealogical Society's Family Health and Heredity Committee and president of the Prince George's County Genealogical Society. He is the author or coauthor of over two hundred scientific publications and a speaker on both medical and genealogical topics. He and his wife live in Maryland.

Product Details

  • Series: National Genealogical Society Guides
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (August 11, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401601448
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401601447
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 7.2 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,060,939 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is the fifth in a new series of instructional volumes sponsored by the National Genealogical Society, and when I read and reviewed the first four in September 2004, I was very impressed. The authors all were well known and trustworthy and their treatment of old subjects (such as basic research principles) and not so old (setting up a genealogy web site) was generally quite well done. But this one is somewhat different. The subject of "genetic genealogy" is still very much unknown territory to almost all genealogists, even the professionals. It's not even a "social science," so one has to acquire a certain amount of new background knowledge even before delving into it. This author is also less likely to be known to most genealogists outside his own specialty: He's a medical doctor, a Section Chief at the National Institutes of Health -- although he has also been president of the Prince George's County Genealogical Society and chairs the NGS committee on Family Health and Heredity, so he certainly can't be called a beginner. Personally, I've been "doing genealogy" for more than three decades, but my background is in history, library science, and archival management, with no training and very little experience in the life sciences. Over the past few years, I've read dozens of articles in all sorts of journals on the subject of applying recent breakthroughs in DNA mapping to family lineages, but even though I've been intrigued by the possibilities, the result has generally been to confuse myself even further. I'm pleased to say that Shawker has supplied an antidote to my ignorance.

The first section lays out the reasons you need to know about your family's health history, because "ignorance is not bliss.
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I took college genetics fairly recently, after having retaken college biology which was required because of the knowledge explosion since my original college biology 40 years earlier. So perhaps I was in a position to appreciate this volume when I first purchased it not long after its publication. More recently I dug it out due to a genealogy project I did for a friend whose uncle had married a woman from a Huntington's chorea family, and thus had cousins who refused the DNA tests now available while deliberately reproducing, not knowing whether they were passing on that unfortunate autosomal dominant affliction.

A fascinating dilemma, thoroughly explored along with many others, in this book. If these issues interest you, I recommend reading this well-presented study which goes into explanatory detail that should suffice for those who have not had an education in genetics. I was sufficiently impressed that I bought a second copy as a gift for a cousin with great interest in genealogy.
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Fascinating updates on genetics and how they can assist genealogical research. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and using the forms in the back to aid my genealogical research
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