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It's All Relative: Adventures Up and Down the World’s Family Tree (2017)

by A. J. Jacobs

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4072658,814 (3.54)31
Traces the author's three-year investigation into what constitutes family, describing how, after receiving an e-mail from a stranger who claimed to be a distant cousin, he embarked on an effort to build the biggest family tree in history.
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» See also 31 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
I just gobbled this treat up! A.J. Jacobs makes me think, laugh/snort, make connections, learn, and ponder. I’m grateful that he takes me along on his journeys and quests. He generously shares his family and friends along the way, for which I’m grateful. His brilliance and heart have made me a loyal reader. I’ll read anything he writes. ( )
  sharishaw49 | Sep 20, 2023 |
I've read quite a few of A.J. Jacobs' books at this point, so I feel like I know what to expect. He generally takes a fairly serious topic and explores it with a fair dose of humor and lightheartedness. In this one, he takes on genealogy, acknowledging that at some point, we're all related. There's a little bit of everything in this book, culminating with his grand gesture to plan and execute a Global Family Reunion. I enjoyed this well enough, though I don't think it was my favorite of his. But still an entertaining read. ( )
  indygo88 | Aug 26, 2023 |
AJ Jacobs includes his usual humor and charm in this experimental tale. I think the book lacks in some areas though. For instance, he goes to great lengths to scientifically defend his beliefs in evolution, which is fine with me. I felt it was a little redundant. And though his comments on unique situations might be made with tongue in cheek, I'd like to see the same scientific evidence for atypical families. Are children more likely to finish school, less likely to have depression if they come from unique homes? Some studies have to exist. ( )
  OutOfTheBestBooks | Sep 24, 2021 |
I had no idea that AJ Jacobs was thinking about a global family tree. Not until I joined Wikitree which is a free online genealogy family tree website (wikitree dot com) where one can add ones family tree to connect to the (one huge) global tree - for free.

The theory is that if we all go back far enough, we are all related. I joined Wikitree back in 2016, and I have added my family tree.

I read this book on the same day it was released - November 2017 if I remember correctly.

I was so chuffed to read the names of some of my wikitree friends who were actually mentioned in Aj's book. There were some parts of this book that were a little dry. The DNA parts were fine, I had no trouble understanding those. But some of the more esoteric chapters and topics were a little over my head.

I gave it 4 stars. If you like genealogy, you will like this book. If you are into genetic genealogy, you may even LOVE this book!! ( )
  Robloz | Sep 23, 2021 |
Jacobs throws in humor throughout the book. While I personally enjoyed his style of humor, I can see how some might find him pretentious at times. He does talk about some of the issues with genealogy - such as: there can often be very little information about the details of females in the past. He has definitely taken the effort to tell readers about about possible blind spots or issues he sees with various groups or approaches throughout the book. He also is very clear that often it is others who point these things out to him. His willingness to be upfront about his own mistakes and issues he struggles with makes him feel like a more reliable narrator to travel down this journey with.

It feels like a mix between a type of memoir and a book about the hope that genealogy can help people see that we are all connected, and thus lead to maybe at least a little less fighting - and all held together with sprinklings of humor. (He is hopeful, but not delusional) Also, with each chapter being rather short, it helps the book feel shorter than it is. ( )
  Sara_Cat | Mar 7, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
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To Julie, Jasper, Zane, and Lucas
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Thanks for picking up this book.
Chapter 1
The Eighth Cousin
My story begins three years ago with one of the strangest emails I've ever received.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Traces the author's three-year investigation into what constitutes family, describing how, after receiving an e-mail from a stranger who claimed to be a distant cousin, he embarked on an effort to build the biggest family tree in history.

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Average: (3.54)
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