Today on Blogcritics
Home » Books » The Early Word: New Books for the Week of June 7, 2010

The Early Word: New Books for the Week of June 7, 2010

Please Share...Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Facebook0Share on Google+0Share on LinkedIn0Pin on Pinterest0Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUpon0Share on Reddit0Email this to someone

Books for assorted and sundry sunny summer Sundays. Now say that three times real fast…

Pandora's Seed: The Unforeseen Cost of Civilization
by Spencer Wells

As director of National Geographic’s Genographic Project — which is collecting and analyzing hundreds of thousands of DNA samples from people around the world in order to decipher how our ancestors populated the planet — renowned geneticist and anthropologist Spencer Wells has traced human evolution back to our earliest ancestors, developing a comprehensive theory that roots all of todays’ significant ailments in a crucial turning point: humanity’s shift from the hunter-gatherer to an agricultural lifestyle 10,000 years ago. As Wells proclaims, “They were unaware of what, by changing their fundamental relationship with nature, they were unleashing on the world.”

Drawing on the most recent genetic and anthropological data, Pandora’s Seed: The Unforeseen Cost of Civilization takes us back to this time when we became farmers rather than hunter-gatherers, setting in motion a vital chain of events that could not have been foreseen at the time. The upshot of the Neolithic shift has meant a disparity between our biology and our culture. Agriculture signified more available food, made humans more sedentary and unhealthy, and added to the population, which led to the development of governments. More people and the need to apportion limited resources such as water created hierarchies and inequalities. As for religion, the desire to master and manage nature altered the concept of religion, making deities fewer and more prominent, auguring today’s fanaticisms. Worse than that, the shift also led to countless diseases — not only those contracted from proximity with farm animals, but also arising from an unhealthier lifestyle — and to the psychological disquiet that afflicts so many today. “This is the first time in history,” Wells notes, “that we are routinely drugging ourselves in order to appear normal.”  

You may want to be in an altered state too as Wells touches on more futuristic, global concerns. He does end on a positive note, however, suggesting ways we can change our lifestyle and standards, and restrain any ill intentions so we attain better personal and global health. After all, according to the Greek myth, Pandora’s box held not only a variety of evils for the world, but also hope.

NONFICTION

The Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education
by Leigh A. Bortins

Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook
by Anthony Bourdain

The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains
by Nicholas Carr

The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That Is Connecting the World
by David Kirkpatrick

More Money Than God: Hedge Funds and the Making of a New Elite
by Sebastian Mallaby

The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America
by Andrew C. McCarthy

The Party: The Secret World of China's Communist Rulers
by Richard McGregor

Lyndon B. Johnson (American Presidents Series)
by Charles Peters

Broke, USA: From Pawnshops to Poverty, Inc. – How the Working Poor Became Big Business
by Gary Rivlin

Bob Marley: The Untold Story
by Chris Salewicz

The Divine Life of Animals: One Man's Quest to Discover Whether the Souls of Animals Live On
by Ptolemy Tompkins

FICTION

The Passage
by Justin Cronin

The Lion
by Nelson DeMille

So Cold the River
by Michael Koryta

Wanted (Pretty Little Liars Series #8)
by Sara Shepard

Death Echo
by Elizabeth Lowell

Insatiable
by Meg Cabot

Powered by

About Gordon Hauptfleisch