Neanderthal Me

I have been involved for the past 2+ days with travel for and events at the (again very interesting) "Atlantic Meets the Pacific" session, held with UC San Diego in La Jolla. More on that, and other outstanding issues, as soon as I can manage.

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This evening, after a discussion between the Atlantic's editor James Bennet and the geneticist Craig Venter, Spencer Wells of the National Geographic's Genographic project described his ongoing effort to map humanity's origins and migrations through comparing genetic markers in different population groups. I thought it was genuinely interesting -- even before he revealed the results of analyses of the DNA of three Atlantic staffers in attendance: Alexis Madrigal, Steve Clemons, and me.

Each of us had peculiarities in his origin -- in my case, that the mitochondrial DNA on my (mainly Scottish) mother's side didn't really match anything they had seen before. But the real payoff was the Neanderthal test. I am proud to announce that the Atlantic staffer with the most direct descent from Neanderthal man is ... me, with 5 percent of my genes being Neanderthal.

So, watch out. I think I will change my profile picture.

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.


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