By Eric Weiner / Special to the Washington Post Few things in life yield such a bountiful harvest of joy and heartache as family – and during the holiday season, relatives are at the forefront more than ever. Many authors have weighed in on the mixed bag that is family. But few have done so with the keen eye, sharp tongue and big heart of A.J. Jacobs in his new book, “It’s All Relative: Adventures Up and Down the World’s Family Tree.” Thanks to advances in DNA testing, we’re living in a golden age of genealogy. That is, he acknowledges, a bit like saying that “we’re in the sexiest era of professional bowling.” In Jacobs’ hands, though, the subject comes alive. He makes terms like “mitochondrial DNA” not only comprehensible but fun. Jacobs concedes from the outset of “It’s All Relative” that he has an agenda: world peace. The way to accomplish this, he believes, is through a kind of genetic sleight of hand. Studies find that we treat people better if we know they’re family. So why not hijack this tendency to favor kin over strangers by tricking our brains into believing that everyone is kin? Only it’s […]

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