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Faces of America

How 12 Extraordinary People Discovered their Pasts

Henry Louis Gates Jr., 0, 0

Publication Year: 2010

“There are surprises—[Gates] finds a common ancestor between Queen Noor of Jordan and African-American academic Elizabeth Alexander; both are 37th great-granddaughters of Charlemagne—and in getting such subjects as Mike Nichols to open up about their pasts, he finds how powerfully the past informs the present. Gates offers a book stuffed with epiphanies that will spark curiosity among readers about their own ancestry as well as their possible connections to each other.”

Published by: NYU Press


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pp. vii


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pp. ix

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Introduction: Looking at Faces

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pp. 1-9

ON JANUARY 3, 2001, Dr. Rick Kittles, Assistant Professor of Molecular Genetics at the National Human Genome Center at Howard University, sent me a letter that would answer a question that had haunted me since I was nine years old: Where...

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A Note on DNA Testing

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pp. 10-13

EVERY SUBJECT IN this project was invited to submit a sample of DNA for testing to complement the genealogical research we conducted. All but one of the subjects agreed to participate in the testing. (The Native American author Louise...

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1 Mike Nichols

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pp. 14-33

FOR NEARLY HALF a century, Mike Nichols has been one of America’s most creative and influential artists. He is among the tiny group of people to have won all four of our most competitive awards for film, television, theater...

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2 Meryl Streep

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pp. 34-50

IF HOLLYWOOD WERE a kingdom, Meryl Streep would be its queen. There is no more gifted actor today on film or the stage. She has been nominated for twenty-five Golden Globes and sixteen Academy Awards (including wins for both Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress), and she has very deservedly received the American Film Institute’s Life Achievement Award. I have admired...

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3 Queen Noor

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pp. 51-71

LISA HALABY CAPTURED the world’s imagination when, in a storybook marriage to King Hussein of Jordan, she became Her Majesty, Queen Noor. Aft er King Hussein’s death, she continued to command universal respect for her ongoing role as an outspoken advocate for world peace and justice. She plays an active...

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4 Louise Erdrich

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pp. 72-90

LOUISE ERDRICH IS the author of thirteen novels as well as volumes of poetry, short stories, children’s books, and a memoir of early motherhood. Her novel Love Medicine won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1984, and The Plague of Doves was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2009 and won the Anisfield...

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5 Yo-Yo Ma

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pp. 91-106

YO YO MA IS among the most recognizable and beloved musicians on earth. The greatest cellist of our time, he has performed on every continent and at hundreds of significant events, including President Barack Obama’s inauguration; he...

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6 Dr. Mehmet Oz

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pp. 107-127

DR . MEHMET OZ is so famous as a media personality that it is easy to forget he is also one of the nation’s preeminent surgeons and professors of medicine. Vice Chair and Professor of Surgery at Columbia University, he performs over two hundred...

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7 Mario Batali

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pp. 128-145

MARIO BATALI IS one of America’s most colorful and celebrated chefs. He owns six highly successful restaurants in New York City, along with a distinctive winery. He has written best-selling cookbooks, hosted a Food Network show, and won countless accolades for his enduring contributions to American and Italian...

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8 Elizabeth Alexander

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pp. 146-169

DR . ELIZABETH ALEXANDER is a poet, professor, and chair of the African American Studies Department at Yale University. She is the author of five books of poems (including American Sublime, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize) and two collections of essays. Among her many honors, she has been awarded a National...

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9 Malcolm Gladwell

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pp. 170-191

MALCOLM GLADWELL IS one of America’s most creative journalists. Th e author of four New York Times best-selling books and a staff writer for the New Yorker, he has redefined the way we think about an array of subjects large and small  from statistics to cognition to the underlying causes of genius, from the...

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10 Stephen Colbert

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pp. 192-215

STEPHEN COLBERT IS one of the most original political satirists in the United States today. I adore The Colbert Report, his Emmy and Peabody Award – winning series on Comedy Central. I love the way in which his character  a conservative talk-show host who revels in his Irish American identity and basically...

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11 Kristi Yamaguchi

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pp. 216-233

THE FIGURE S KATE R Kristi Yamaguchi captured America’s imagination in the late 1980s and early 1990s, winning victory aft er victory on the international stage, culminating in an Olympic gold medal in 1992. Since then, she has had a celebrated professional career and become an active philanthropist. I asked her to participate in this project aft er learning that her stunning achievements...

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12 Eva Longoria

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pp. 234-248

EVA LONGORIA BECAME a household name when she was cast on the hit television show Desperate Housewives in 2004. Since then, she’s built a remarkable career in Hollywood, all the while donating her time, money, and image to a host of worthy Latino causes. I asked her to participate in this series in no small...

DNA Appendix

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pp. 249-256


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pp. 257-277

About the Author

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pp. 278

E-ISBN-13: 9780814732656
E-ISBN-10: 0814732658
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814732649
Print-ISBN-10: 081473264X

Page Count: 304
Publication Year: 2010

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Race -- Biography.
  • United States -- Genealogy -- Case studies.
  • Genetic genealogy -- United States -- Case studies.
  • United States -- Biography.
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