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It's All Relative: Adventures Up and Down the World’s Family Tree Hardcover – November 7, 2017
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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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“Whether the author is being ruminative or rollicking, he is consistently thought-provoking in his "adventure in helping to build the World Family Tree," and his natural gift for humor lightens the mood of even the most serious discussion. A delightful, easy-to-read, informative book.”—Kirkus, Starred Review
“Whimsical but also full of solid journalism and eye-opening revelations about the history of humanity, the book is a real treat.”—Booklist, Starred Review
“In his latest adventure book, author and experimentalist A.J. Jacobs enthusiastically shares in the human quest for self-knowledge that drives so many of us around the world to search for – and find – our roots. The astonishing discoveries he makes not only reveal the compelling possibilities of genealogical and genetic research; they remind us of the common bonds that unite us as a single global family. As Jacobs’s (however distant) cousin, I admit I may be biased in singing his praises, but as It’s All Relative proves, who isn’t?”—Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
“A.J. Jacobs is descended from pretzel vendors, dwarf pony breeders, and purveyors of bogus hemorrhoid salves, which may or may not explain why I love his books so much. Mostly it's because, like life itself, A.J. is deep and goofy at the same time. It's All Relative is the funniest, most thoughtful, most original and entertaining book about family that you will ever read and wish you'd written.”—Mary Roach
“A.J. Jacobs has done it again! Having once lived the Ten Commandments for a year (even going so far as to “stone” an adulterer with pebbles), his new book, It’s All Relative, Adventures Up and Down the World’s Family Tree, takes us on another unique adventure that pits idealism vs. practicality: Bringing about world peace and harmony by finding “cousin” connections among people throughout the globe and then hosting a “Global Family Reunion.” Jacobs again opens up to us his insightful (and hysterically bizarre) thought processes as he plots the end of hate and conflict through one massive first-of- its-kind event."—Scott Fisher, host of Extreme Genes
"The Sower", the Simon & Schuster logo, is perfect opening icon for this story about human seed sown by our common ancestors out of Africa and how you and I are related to the Jacobs clan. Like AJ's previous hilarious books, this one involves way-over-the-top performance art -- this time the mother of all family reunions, at which I sang "We are family" (and the rest of you 7.5 billion were expected to sing along). Genealogy is now, deservedly, tied for the top hobby, along with other ancient biotechnologies, gardening and sex. You could have no better guide than ace jovialist and awesome jester, AJ. Now, more than ever, we celebrate our connections, we read, we smile.—George Church, author of Regenesis
“A hilarious read from beginning to end.”—Adam Grant, New York Times bestselling author of Give and Take, Originals, and Option B with Sheryl Sandberg.
“A terrific read and A.J. is a terrific writer…funny and super-interesting.”—Michael Ian Black
“Esquire contributing editor Jacobs (The Year of Living Biblically) muses on the nature of family and the interconnectedness of humanity in this entertaining introduction to the world of genealogy...With short, lively chapters and an easygoing voice, Jacobs keeps the story flowing.”—Publishers Weekly
“A.J. Jacobs’ latest book embraces an entertaining and heartwarming search to discover “Family”. His adventure is the natural curiosity in all of us to know where we are from. This book takes you along for the ride as A.J. discovers his family, and works to connect with all of us. His efforts culminate at the world’s largest Global family reunion. The reader if not already a family historian, will become one after reading this fascinating and amazing tale.”—David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist, New England Historic Genealogical Society
About the Author
A.J. Jacobs is the author of It’s All Relative and the New York Times bestsellers The Know-It-All, The Year of Living Biblically, and The Guinea Pig Diaries. He is the editor at large of Esquire magazine, a contributor to NPR, and has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Entertainment Weekly. He lives in New York City with his wife and kids. Visit him at AJJacobs.com.
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That’s the setup, but as always, AJ Jacobs provides us with far more insightful observations on human nature and in this case, the very nature of what constitutes a “family”. The author counts down the weeks until the big reunion by sharing numerous anecdotes from his own family and others who he encounters during his search along the branches of the tree. He examines such topics as family feuds, immigrants to the US, our Neanderthal cousins, and the many forms of genealogy. He does not shy away from the controversial aspects of genealogy, such as privacy, and presents all sides fairly.
I’m afraid I’m making this sound like a textbook of some kind but nothing could be further from the truth. While I certainly learned a lot about the inter-relationships of human beings, this is a downright fun book to read. AJ Jacobs is a humorist and his prose is downright funny. He is a sort of everyman who is very observant and also humble when it comes to his own charm. What he achieved with his Global Family Reunion (with the help of hundreds of assistants) was pretty amazing but the truths about ourselves which he discovers and relates along the way are truly inspiring.
This book comes along at a great time. We humans seem to be more divided than ever into our little cliques and tribes based on our differences and often, it is our leadership that is throwing fuel on the fire. To read a book wherein we can take pride in our individual cultural histories but realize just how similar we all are is to find hope for the future.
During the year of planning AJ finds inspiration attending the reunion in Flat Top, West Virginia of the family that has held the existing reunion attendance record, the annual twins reunions in Twinsburg, Ohio and even a reunion of current families of the legendary feuders, the Hatfields and McCoys. And in the process we learn about the writer's celebrity cousins, his black sheep ancestors, genealogy, the difference between polygamy and polyamory and the often unintended consequences of DNA test results.
Fans of Jacobs, a long-time humor writer for Esquire, will recall his three earlier best selling books in which he describes his "humble quests" - to improve his mind, his spirituality and his health. Once again AJ's wife Julie and his three sons are there to cheerfully bear witnesses to his eccentricities and we again appreciate the bittersweet reverence he feels for his deceased grandparents, some of whom he wistfully wishes he had know better.
There is a lot of wisdom among the book's wit, all of which makes for a most enjoyable read and a perfect gift for your own cousins during this upcoming holiday season.
What a wonderful book. It is funny beyond belief and makes you think about our interconnections and their implications in ways we academics and activists can only dream of.
I mean, who can get a bunch of Mormons and Henry Louis Gates and some Hatfields and some McCoys and Sister Sledge and zillions of others in between to cooperate on a project and hold up silly signs saying I am a cousin and show up at the same place(s) around the world at the same time on the same day.
The message is profound. We are all related. Think about that.
To see why this book is important, read the only (so far) one star review.
Then read the book.
PS. We may all be related, and Jacobs certainly should have made the Guiness Book of World Records for most people thanked in an acknowledgement. We may be all related, but i didn't know any of them, though I have had an extended email conversation with one of them.