Monday, November 12, 2007

Phooey on Edward Ball

Ye socks are all too familiar with my attempts to encourage people to read with my numerous book recommendations in the dryer. So, it is with a heavy heart that I feel it necessary to tell you all NOT to bother reading a certain book.

You may recognize the name of Edward Ball as the best-selling author of "Slaves in the Family," in which he explored several generations of relations between his white southern family and their slaves/descendants. It was a good read.

But, his latest book "The Genetic Strand: Exploring a Family History through DNA" is absolute tripe. Don't bother spending good money on it.

I was fooled by the premise: Ball finds nine locks of hair in an old desk and sends them off to some genetics labs to find out what they could reveal about his ancestors' DNA. Sounds interesting, no?

Unfortunately, this guy is so condescending. He even went so far as to point out that most people have eight great-grandparents. Well, duh!

He also quickly reveals himself as one of those self-loathing liberal elites who have nothing nice to say about Western culture and traditions, and looks down his nose at "average" Americans. Here's one particularly offensive quote (pages 129-130):

Most people who do family research are white,
and most of them look for ancestors with the goal
to unearth the whitest, most moneyed forebears
they can.
What an absolute load of crap and nonsense! I know lots of genealogy buffs, both amateur and professional. I can tell you they are not all of one ethnic background, and actually do their research to find out the truth--palatable as it may or may not be to prats like Mr. Ball.
Ball concludes this unworthy book by urging his readers (if indeed he has any left at this point) not to trust science in general and DNA testing in particular. Now, to be sure, scientists make mistakes all the time, and DNA testing is not yet a perfect science. But, they at least try to support their claims with fact--something Ball miserably fails to do.
On the other hand, if you'd like to get your hands on a true literary masterpiece, might I suggest Like the Cats of Kilkenny: A True Story of the Civil War? Autographed copies are available upon request to yours truly.

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2 Comments:

Blogger lbennett1 said...

Thanks for the review on the new Ed Ball book. I heard an interview on one of the public radio talk shows and wanted to barf. I like his earlier work.

3:53 PM  
Blogger Apopkan said...

Me, too. That's why this book was particularly disappointing . . .

4:05 PM  

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