2019 PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award Finalist "Science book of the year"?The Guardian One of New York Times 100 Notable Books for 2018 One of Publishers Weekly's Top Ten Books of 2018 One of Kirkus's Best Books of 2018 One of Mental Floss's Best Books of 2018 One of Science Friday's Best Science Books of 2018 ?Extraordinary??New York Times Book Review "Magisterial"?The Atlantic "Engrossing"?Wired "Leading contender as the most outstanding nonfiction work of the year"?Minneapolis Star-Tribune Celebrated New York Times columnist and science writer Carl Zimmer presents a profoundly original perspective on what we pass along from generation to generation. Charles Darwin played a crucial part in turning heredity into a scientific question, and yet he failed spectacularly to answer it. The birth of genetics in the early 1900s seemed to do precisely that. Gradually, people translated their old notions about heredity into a language of genes. As the technology for studying genes became cheaper, millions of people ordered genetic tests to link themselves to missing parents, to distant ancestors, to ethnic identities... But, Zimmer writes, ?Each of us carries an amalgam of fragments of DNA, stitched together from some of our many ancestors. Each piece has its own ancestry, traveling a different path back through human history. A particular fragment may sometimes be cause for worry, but most of our DNA influences who we are?our appearance, our height, our penchants?in inconceivably subtle ways.? Heredity isn?t just about genes that pass from parent to child. Heredity continues within our own bodies, as a single cell gives rise to trillions of cells that make up our bodies.