The Invisible History of the Human Race

  • by Christine Kenneally
  • Narrated by Justine Eyre
  • 12 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

We are doomed to repeat history if we fail to learn from it, but how are we affected by the forces that are invisible to us? In The Invisible History of the Human Race, Christine Kenneally draws on cutting-edge research to reveal how both historical artifacts and DNA tell us where we come from and where we may be going.
While some books explore our genetic inheritance and some popular television shows celebrate ancestry, this is the first book to explore how everything from DNA to emotions to names and the stories that form our lives are all part of our human legacy. Kenneally shows how trust is inherited in Africa, how silence is passed down in Tasmania, and how the history of nations is written in our DNA. From fateful ancient encounters to modern mass migrations and medical diagnoses, Kenneally explains how the forces that shaped the history of the world ultimately shape each human who inhabits it.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

The convergence of genealogy and genetics

Where does The Invisible History of the Human Race rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I enjoyed it a great deal, and will listen to again at some point. The narrator's accent was very strong and hard to understand at first, but once my ear adjusted to it she was perfect.


What other book might you compare The Invisible History of the Human Race to and why?

Bill Bryson's "At Home" - they are overview histories, ranging far and wide around the basic subject. You aren't going to be educated in depth about any one subject, but rather introduced to topics and ideas worth delving deeper into on your own.


Which character – as performed by Justine Eyre – was your favorite?

Christine Kenneally herself.


Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

I was struck by the need we almost all have to connect to the past, to reach back in time and know where we came from.


Any additional comments?

This book is the convergence of genetics and genealogy, and it is an exciting time. I'd love to read an update in about 10 years!

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- Annie Fitt "The Ragtag Horde"

Who are you really. Who am I?

What made the experience of listening to The Invisible History of the Human Race the most enjoyable?

In the tradition of Daniel Gilbert, Malcolm Gladwell, Mary Roach, Sarah Vowell, Bruce Chatwin, and, oh, the list goes on, this is a book that blends personal narrative with the fascinating world of science, all laid out in language the Average Joe (such as Moi) can embrace. This is a book we can all relate to, because it's all about us...our ancestry, our genetics, and the blend of the two. I have listened to it twice now (and I've only had it a week!).


What was one of the most memorable moments of The Invisible History of the Human Race?

I was really touched by the personal stories included by author Christine Kenneally...she discusses her own discovery of secrets in her family. Also, there are touching moments of people who have traced their ancestry in order to better understand who they are themselves.


Have you listened to any of Justine Eyre’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I have not listened to any of Eyre's previous work, but found her to be a solid narrator for this work. The best complement I can ever pay a narrator is that he or she doesn't get in the way of the text--in other words, the narrator fades into the background to the point where you are really focused on the story. Eyre does just that, for which I'm grateful. As we all know, a narrator can make or break an audiobook.


Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

There is a moment when one interviewee finds a gravestone of an ancestor who lived back in the 1500's. Kenneally beautifully describes this powerful moment and what it means to an individual who, heretofore, hadn't known much about her heritage.


Any additional comments?

This book is smart, superbly written, and endlessly entertaining. If you've ever watched that PBS show "Finding Your Roots," or you've looked in the mirror, wondering from whom you got your nose, this book will win you over. At the same time, Kenneally explains DNA, how it works, how it's transferred from one generation to the next...and even more important in this era of terrorism and anger, how we are all, at the core, related to one another, bound by our genes.

I listened to this book almost straight through in one sitting. I was intrigued, I listened again. A book to be cherished and devoured by science geeks, genealogy enthusiasts, and human beings alike.

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- Annie M. "Say something about yourself!"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-09-2014
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio