Science journalist Karin Bojs decided to genealogical research in depth and allow the DNA strands to connect her with the ancient people. She read hundreds of studies, interviewed researchers and travelled to dozens of countries to follow the evidence backwards.
Since the 1980s, DNA technology has undergone a remarkable development. It has revolutionized both the forensic criminologists’ work as well as biological and medical research, and in recent years it has started to contribute to new knowledge within archaeology and history. Even individuals engaged in genealogical research have begun using DNA as a tool. With the help of small variations in the DNA sequence, it is now possible to find cousins, second cousins and third cousins, and even relatives who lived ages ago – during the last Ice Age, and even further back.
Karin Bojs has a rare talent for weaving facts together and create a narrative out of these stories so that they come to life. In this book, she uses herself as experimental object, let her DNA get analyzed and becomes the lens through which History is magnified.
In the book's beginning and end, the reader comes close to the author in a way that goes beyond the empirical world. Science is framed by a pervasive personal quest for one's roots and the reconciliation with the past.
The result of Karin Bojs’ work became a book about her origin and her family’s. But also about the rest of us. For we are related. Somewhere, sometime our last common ancestors have lived. The DNA strands ties us all together.
87 gene variants. That’s what makes us genetically different from Neanderthals. 87 gene variants is the difference between 500 000 years of technological stagnation to building civilization, writing symphonies, landing on the moon, making iPhones. And writing books like this one. How it allows the reader to understand the greatness of each prehistoric technological breakthrough - the sewing needle, the plough, astronomy - things that today seem trivial because of the abundance of technology we see around us.
It requires a special sense to put these things in perspective. A Human being is so much. Humans have the capacity to be so much more. No one else has previously summarized all the research done in these fields - archaeological, molecular biological, genetic, anthropological - the way Karin Bojs has done. What a worthy winner. Congratulations, Karin.
Farshid Jalalvand, PhD Medical Microbiology, Department of Translational Medicine at Lund University on a Facebook post congratulating the author for the August Prize in the category Best Swedish Non-Fiction Book of the Year 2015
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