Its all relative book review
Its All Relative: Adventures Up and Down the Worlds Family Tree by A.J. JacobsNew York Times bestselling author of The Know-It-All and The Year of Living Biblically, A.J. Jacobs undergoes a hilarious, heartfelt quest to understand what constitutes family—where it begins and how far it goes—and attempts to untangle the true meaning of the “Family of Humankind.”
A.J. Jacobs has received some strange emails over the years, but this note was perhaps the strangest: “You don’t know me, but I’m your eighth cousin. And we have over 80,000 relatives of yours in our database.”
That’s enough family members to fill Madison Square Garden four times over. Who are these people, A.J. wondered, and how do I find them? So began Jacobs’s three-year adventure to help build the biggest family tree in history.
Jacobs’s journey would take him to all seven continents. He drank beer with a US president, found himself singing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and unearthed genetic links to Hollywood actresses and real-life scoundrels. After all, we can choose our friends, but not our family.
“Whether he’s posing as a celebrity, outsourcing his chores, or adhering strictly to the Bible, we love reading about the wacky lifestyle experiments of author A.J. Jacobs” (Entertainment Weekly). Now Jacobs upends, in ways both meaningful and hilarious, our understanding of genetics and genealogy, tradition and tribalism, identity and connection. It’s All Relative is a fascinating look at the bonds that connect us all.
It's All Relative has less to do with America's leading pastime than A. He chronicles his "adventure in helping to build the World Family Tree. The oldest human endeavor, because recognizing family defines humanity, genealogy has little respect among formal scholarship due in part to its populism. Familial relationship, however, defines much of history. Jacobs makes that argument with sometimes irrelevant essays "a lot about the pros and cons of assimilation and identity.
And we have over 80, relatives of yours in our database. Who are these people, A. He drank beer with a US president, sung with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and unearthed genetic links to Hollywood actresses and real-life scoundrels. After all, we can choose our friends, but not our family. Now Jacobs upends, in ways both meaningful and hilarious, our understanding of genetics and genealogy, tradition and tribalism, identity and connection.
Spoiler alert: A. At least as of press time. The idea for the Global Family Reunion is born after Jacobs is contacted by an eighth cousin who has drawn his family tree to 80, members and hosted a reunion of 3, Despite having no event-planning experience, Jacobs imagines he can set a world record for the largest family reunion. And so begins a sequence of successes and misadventures that Jacobs recounts in 46 breezy chapters. But happier examples are more plentiful. He abandoned the far right and became an activist against discrimination.
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