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A Genetic and Cultural Odyssey: The Life and Work of L. Luca Cavalli-Sforza Hardcover – May 25, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

Review

This fascinating little book demonstrates that Cavalli-Sforza has blazed a path well worth reading.

(Oren Solomon American Scientist)

As a renaissance scientist in the purist form... Cavalli-Sforza is a giant upon whom many scientists have stood... Highly recommended.

(Choice)

A Genetic and Cultural Odyssey is a wonderful journey through the life to date of a giant who is nearly glued to science.

(Nyamkhishig Sambuughin, Ph.D. New England Journal of Medicine)

Review

Stone and Lurquin have written a book for readers drawn to the adventures at the frontiers we call science. Weaving together historical, scientific, and biographical details, they bring us the fascinating story of Cavalli-Sforza's contributions to genetics and anthropology.

(Joanna Mountain, Stanford University)|

Rarely have we seen so careful and yet so revealing an exegesis ofan intellectual biography as we are given in this "Odyssey". Andwhat a man, what a journey--from genetics of bacteria to theintertwining of human genetic evolution, culture, and language; ofNature and Nurture; of DNA with human origins and migrations. No one in thebiological or human sciences can be anything but edified by this lucid and well-informed account.

(Joshua Lederberg, The Rockefeller University, 1958 Nobel Laureate for Physiology or Medicine)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press (May 25, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231133960
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231133968
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #781,291 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By John Matlock on July 22, 2005
Format: Hardcover
In recent years it has becomm possible to use DNA to trace human development. For instance the people of iceland believed themselves to be of Viking descent. DNA testing has shown that yes, the men of Iceland are of Viking descent. But the women came from England and Scotland. Apparently the Vikings stopped off to capture a few women on their way west.

This little tidbit of knowledge is a mixture of multiple sciences and fields of study. The beliefs of the Icelanders has to come from a humanities perspective. The DNA evidence has to come from the hard science in the laboratory. (The supposition at the end is my own.)

Dr. Cavalli-Sforza, as the title of this book says, has spent a lifetime of study spanning across many fields of study in the hard sciences and in many different areas of the humanities. This is a book that spans the globe from his offices in California and Italy to field studies in Africa and elsewhere.

Written by an anthropologist and a geneticist, this book is also a good combination of crossing the fields of science and humanity.
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Cultural transmission of phenotypic behavior is extremely important. In my opinion it is one of the MAJOR factors in human disease, medical treatment of disease, human suffering and relief of that suffering. It has proven so difficult to study this topic that most of academic medicine simply avoids tackling it. Studying the subject is made even more complicated by the fact that genetic factors are an issue at the same time that cultural factors are in operation ("co-evolution). Nevertheless, in my specialty (Psychiatry) one of the biggest changes that a patient can accomplish is to alter the "multigenerational transmission of Psychopathology" (my kids won't suffer from the same harmful treatments that I did when I was a kid).If you have suspected how important this issue might be, and want to introduce yourself to the scientific study of the subject, this book is the place to start. Once you have some perspective on Cavalli-Sforza's research, you can better tackle the original research he has published in his books, starting around 1971.
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