The Invisible History of the Human Race by Christine Kenneally | Black Inc.

The Invisible History of the Human Race: How DNA and History Shape Our Identities and Our Futures

Book club notes

Awards for The Invisible History of the Human Race

  • A New York Times Notable Book of 2014
  • Winner of the Bragg UNSW Prize for Science Writing
  • Shortlisted, 2015 Stella Prize
  • Shortlisted, 2015 Queensland Premier's Literary Awards

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About the author

Christine Kenneally

Christine Kenneally is an award-winning journalist and author who has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times, Slate, Time magazine, New Scientist, The Monthly, and other publications. She is the author of The First Word: …

More about Christine Kenneally

Praise for The Invisible History of the Human Race

‘Christine Kenneally's brilliant, ambitious work integrates cutting edge genetics with a deeply humanistic perspective on our personal and communal past. Transcending the usual intellectual silos, she shows how historical events became inscribed in DNA and how our ancestry casts riveting shadows onto the future. This wholly original book will change how you view your parents, your children and your own messy, mosaic self.’ —Amanda Schaffer, contributor to the New Yorker online and contributing editor at MIT Technology Review.


‘The word “brilliant” gets thrown around a lot, but it should be saved for Christine Kenneally and her book The Invisible History of the Human Race. Transcending the nature-nurture dichotomy, Kenneally shows us how our societies and our selves got to be the way they are. Don’t read this book looking for neat answers—gaze instead through a glorious kaleidoscope of science, psychology, history and first-class storytelling.’ —Susan Cain, New York Times bestselling author of QUIET: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.


‘Christine Kenneally’s sensational book belongs in the backpack of anyone who wants to explore his or her family’s past. Crisply written and packed with myriad fresh facts and rights, The Invisible History will make the journey down the genealogical trail a lot richer and more meaningful.’ —Sylvia Nasar, author, Grand Pursuit: The Story of Economic Genius


‘Christine Kenneally vividly traces the astonishing 21st century progress in the science of who we are. And she never loses sight of the human stories we tell about our heredity and history, which constitute us just as much as bits and genes do.’ —Jordan Ellenberg, professor of mathematics at the University of Wisconsin, author of How Not To Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking


‘Kenneally offers a rich, thoughtful blend of science, social science and philosophy in a manner that mixes personal history with the history of the human species.’ —Publishers Weekly


‘Fascinating.’ —The Hoopla


‘A fascinating book which defies description … readable and entertaining’ —Cooma-Monaro Express


‘This book is a trailblazer because it’s the first one I’ve ever read that examines how biology, psychology, and history come together to shape each one of us as individuals. It’s thoughtful, carefully researched and engaging.’ —Guardian


‘… [an] impressive and forensic work … Kenneally marries the humanities and sciences by threading them together in our very DNA.’ —Spectrum


‘The breadth of this book; its abundance of enthralling accounts and astonishing science; its adept, vivid writing; and Kenneally’s exquisitely calibrated judgment make it the richest, freshest, most fun book on genetics in some time’ —New York Times


‘Simply a fabulous read. An intriguing, thought-provoking update on the nurture–nature debate, it is dense with information and full of arcane “Hey, did you know this?” moments.’ —Books of the Year, Australian Book Review


‘In the current fad for omnibus histories of absolutely everything, no one has succeeded in quite the way Christine Kenneally has. She approaches her task with a very specific enquiry: what is the interplay between genetics and human history? Searching for an answer, she uncovers worlds within worlds.’ —Australian Book Review


‘A bold and absorbing work’ —Weekend Australian


‘Written for the layperson, this is still a dense and fascinating study of humankind's recent and historical ancestry with regards to DNA determinism.’ —Melbourne Magazine


‘Marvellous … one of those mindtilting books that makes the reader look at everything anew, including sticky questions of religion and race.’ —Books of the Year, the Weekend Australian


‘Magnificently rich and sweeping in scope, in impeccable yet intimate prose’ —Cordelia Fine


‘Original and provocative’ —New Yorker