The Wandering Gene and the Indian Princess by Jeff Wheelwright
Race, Religion, and DNA

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...the author is onto something here. As William Blake saw the world in a grain of sand, Mr. Wheelwright has seen in Shonnie Medina's brief life the tangle in which we are enmeshed...
-WSJ online

Synopsis

A brilliant and emotionally resonant exploration of science and family history.


A vibrant young Hispano woman, Shonnie Medina, inherits a breast-cancer mutation known as BRCA1.185delAG. It is a genetic variant characteristic of Jews. The Medinas knew they were descended from Native Americans and Spanish Catholics, but they did not know that they had Jewish ancestry as well. The mutation most likely sprang from Sephardic Jews hounded by the Spanish Inquisition. The discovery of the gene leads to a fascinating investigation of cultural history and modern genetics by Dr. Harry Ostrer and other experts on the DNA of Jewish populations.


Set in the isolated San Luis Valley of Colorado, this beautiful and harrowing book tells of the Medina family’s five-hundred-year passage from medieval Spain to the American Southwest and of their surprising conversion from Catholicism to the Jehovah’s Witnesses in the 1980s. Rejecting conventional therapies in her struggle against cancer, Shonnie Medina died in 1999. Her life embodies a story that could change the way we think about race and faith.

 

About Jeff Wheelwright

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Jeff Wheelwright is a freelance journalist and the former science editor of Life magazine. He is the author of Degrees of Disaster and The Irritable Heart. He lives in Morro Bay, California.
 
Published January 16, 2012 by W. W. Norton & Company. 273 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, History, Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference, Professional & Technical, Science & Math. Non-fiction
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WSJ online

Above average
Reviewed by Charles C Mann on Feb 11 2012

...the author is onto something here. As William Blake saw the world in a grain of sand, Mr. Wheelwright has seen in Shonnie Medina's brief life the tangle in which we are enmeshed...

Read Full Review of The Wandering Gene and the In... | See more reviews from WSJ online

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