Pandora's Seed: The Unforeseen Cost of Civilization

Pandora's Seed: The Unforeseen Cost of Civilization

3.5 51
by Spencer Wells
     
 

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ISBN-10: 1400062152

ISBN-13: 9781400062157

Pub. Date: 06/08/2010

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group

In The Journey of Man, renowned geneticist and anthropologist Spencer Wells traced human evolution back to our earliest ancestors, creating a remarkable and readable map of our distant past. Now, in his thrilling new book, he examines our cultural inheritance in order to find the turning point that led us to the path we are on today, one he believes we must veer

Overview

In The Journey of Man, renowned geneticist and anthropologist Spencer Wells traced human evolution back to our earliest ancestors, creating a remarkable and readable map of our distant past. Now, in his thrilling new book, he examines our cultural inheritance in order to find the turning point that led us to the path we are on today, one he believes we must veer from in order to survive. Pandora's Seed takes us on a powerful and provocative globe-trotting tour of human history, back to a seminal event roughly ten thousand years ago, when our species made a radical shift in its way of life: We became farmers rather than hunter-gatherers, setting in motion a momentous chain of events that could not have been foreseen at the time. Although this decision to control our own food supply is what propelled us into the modern world, Wells demonstrates-using the latest genetic and anthropological data-that such a dramatic shift in lifestyle had a downside that we're only now beginning to recognize. Growing grain crops ultimately made humans more sedentary and unhealthy and made the planet more crowded. The expanding population and the need to apportion limited resources such as water created hierarchies and inequalities. The desire to control-and no longer cooperate with-nature altered the concept of religion, making deities fewer and more influential, foreshadowing today's fanaticisms. The proximity of humans and animals bred diseases that metastasized over time. Freedom of movement and choice were replaced by a pressure to work that is the forebear of the anxiety and depression millions feel today. Wells offers a hopeful prescription for altering a life to which we were always ill suited, recommending that we change our priorities and self-destructive appetites before it's too late. A riveting and accessible scientific detective story, Pandora's Seed is an eye-opening book for anyone fascinated by the past and concerned about the future.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781400062157
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
06/08/2010
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

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Pandora's Seed: The Unforeseen Cost of Civilization 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 50 reviews.
ellalu More than 1 year ago
The book Pandora's Seed: The Unforeseen Cost of Civilization by Spencer Wells has 230 pages. This book is a great one to read because it has a lot of scientific facts, which are very interesting, but does not require background science knowledge, so it stays appealing to the reader. The author talks about human genes and how the genes have evolved over time leading us into things we are used to seeing and doing everyday throughout the book which I greatly enjoyed. At some points in the novel Well's would use scientific terms that were described well but were too detailed which detracted from the overall content of the book. I enjoyed this book, there was a great amount of science that I learned from it. This book would be most appropriate for people seventeen and older because of its higher-level writing and scientific ideas that are somewhat hard to comprehend. The flow of the chapters of this book keeps a clear message of his argument and altogether made a great book.
TheOneAndOnly319 More than 1 year ago
Pandora's Seed: The Unforeseen Cost of Civilization By: Spencer Wells This book is something that someone should read because it is factual, interesting and something that people who don't have a "scientific" mind can understand. Throughout the book the author provides information about genetics, the human genome, facts of how human genes have evolved to fit how we go about our everyday life, and how our genes are the key that link us to the past, and will help to map out our future. When doing this, he use the scientific terms but then describes them in away anyone could understand. His use of analogies or reference to familiar things made it easier to grasp his argument. There was nothing that came across to me that Wells did that detracted from the content of the book. Every chapter, and sub-chapter, stayed true to his argument and left a certain constant flow to the book. Overall I would say that I liked this book. It was definitely an enjoyable read. His view and studies on evolution opened my mind to things that I had never thought of before. This book would be most appropriate for people seventeen and older, or someone who is able to comprehend a more elevated level of literature.
FinnGoldfish More than 1 year ago
All beings, no matter species, size, or shape, each share a common building block that defines them. DNA is the code that is written in every living creature that inhabits this planet. Spencer Wells takes the audience of Pandora's Seed on an adventure from the beginnings of humanoid existence all the way to what is has become today. By looking at the human genome, Wells is able to show the evolution of man through the ages. He goes further to expand on how our evolution is leading us to the bleeding edge of industrialization and total dominance over the world, along with the fact that we have driven ourselves into malaria, diabetes, obesity, and even mental illness. Wells detracts from the content of the book when he stretches some of his information to make it fit his ideologies, found in the later parts of the book. I particularly enjoyed the way Wells was able to become immersed in very complex topics and translate them into common jargon. This makes it a suitable read for a slightly more educated or older audience since he does maintain a quick pace when explaining the various topics. This is a book someone should read to get a better grasp of who we are as a species, to know where we have come from, and to hopefully predict where we will be going. Overall it was a great eye opener to see how complex our historical yellow brick road actually is.
Jellis2110 More than 1 year ago
I not only read the whole book, but read it twice. I underlined...highlighted...made notes in the margin...checked some of the primary sources. This book gives new information to the general reader in words that keep readers engaged. It isn't "stuffy" or too theoretical. It is down to earth and a really, really good read. I highly recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I admit, I did not make it all the way through the book. I stopped reading after the author's description of the Younger Dryas due to factual errors. Wells is clearly no expert on past climate. He touts ideas that were popular when he himself was in grad school (which he mentions numerous times was in the '80s'), and he did not bother updating. While it is true that the Younger Dryas -- the cold period about 12,000 years ago -- was very cold, the cause(s) of the Younger Dryas are **NOT** known. The theory he touts in the book about a massive drainage of Glacial Lake Agassiz (no longer exists but used to cover a good bit of Quebec) -- it sounds quite dramatic. In fact the biggest drainage of Agassiz did not occur until about 8,000 years ago (it is well-known through much geologic and climate and other evidence), during the period when it was 'warm'. (If you think about it, it makes more sense that an ice damn would collapse and release freshwater when it was under stress -- i.e., melting.) He did get the warm cold sequence right, at least. It made me ask myself if he had other mistakes. Or, if he put forth theories that have been discredited because they sound more dramatic. I stopped reading after this point because it seemed clear that the author did not adequately research the topic outside of his own research area. So, you'd need to be an expert in his area to know which parts of the book to 'trust' that he knows what he is talking about -- and to know which parts had 'dramatic license' applied. But, if you have this level of expertise, you probably would not need/want to read a popular science book on his topic. If you are looking for a nice story, but not to educate yourself, this book is fine. I for one am sorry that I am out $15.
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