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Go Wild: Free Your Body and Mind from the Afflictions of Civilization Hardcover – June 3, 2014

4.6 out of 5 stars 48 customer reviews

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  • Go Wild: Free Your Body and Mind from the Afflictions of Civilization
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Editorial Reviews


"A brilliantly creative synthesis of research and theory offering up a practical, playful, yet profound answer to that most basic question: how to live."―Edward Hallowell, MD, author of Shine: Using Brain Science to Bring Out the Best in Your People

"The mission accomplished by this wonderfully empowering book is nothing short of revolutionary."―from the foreword by David Perlmutter, MD, author of Grain Brain

"Essential reading for anyone interested in unleashing the true power of human nature."―Tyler Graham, author of The Happiness Diet

"An exciting read! A fascinating investigation into the power of evolutionary forces in our lives. Illuminating, penetrating, and immensely practical."―Jim Loehr, cofounder of Human Performance Institute and coauthor of The Power of Full Engagement

"A clear, sustained, fast-paced, utterly persuasive argument that much of our current distress and disease is the product of how the activities of regimented modern life estrange us from our biological needs, literally making us ill. It's also about how to live to avoid this distress. Filled with fascinating details, and the palpable joy of the authors who have found a way to break free from these restrictions, it's also inspiring and will influence many to change the way they live for the better."―Norman Doidge, MD, author of The Brain That Changes Itself

"Inspiring . . . Though there are many other titles on the paleo diet and low-carb nutrition lists, readers will appreciate the considerable attention given to the importance of movement and discussion of research on the design of the human body . . . [the authors] urge readers to begin "a process of discovery" into their own health-one that will surely benefit from using this book as a catalyst."―Publishers Weekly


"A real turning point that explains something I've been trying to figure out for years, having experienced symptoms of both ADHD and mild depression. Exercise is not simply necessary; as Dr. Ratey clearly shows, it's medicine."―Greg LeMond, three-time winner of the Tour de France

"SPARK is just what we need--a thoughtful, interesting, scientific treatise on the powerful and positive impact of exercise on the brain. In mental health, exercise is a growth stock and Ratey is our best broker."―Ken Duckworth, MD, Medical Director for the National Alliance on Mental Illness

"If your goal is to live a long and healhy life to the fullest, then Spark should be required reading."―Kenneth H. Cooper, MD, MPH, "The Father of Aerobics"

"Spark is mercifully short on Ivy League med-school-speak. And it may just spell the end of all dumb-jock jokes."―Abe Streep, Outside

"Ratey has culled the latest science and found that a regular workout can help build a better, faster brain."―USA TODAY

About the Author

John Ratey, M.D. is a clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He is the author of numerous bestselling and groundbreaking books, including Spark, Driven to Distraction, and A User's Guide to the Brain. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Richard Manning is an award-winning journalist. He is the author of eight books, including One Round River. His work has appeared in Best American Science and Nature Writing 2010, Harper's, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and other publications.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; First Edition edition (June 3, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316246093
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316246095
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #157,548 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Go Wild was written by Dr. John Ratey and Richard Manning. I’m a Manning fan, and I was hoping for a book with rhythms similar to the writing of Tom Brown, Richard Nelson, or Jay Griffiths — work rooted in a spiritual connection to the family of life. Our current path is a dead end. If Big Mama Nature decides to let two-legged animals have a future, the key to survival is returning to a path of reverence, respect, and balance, like our ancient African ancestors lived.

Be aware that Go Wild does not take you on a fascinating tour of wild cultures. The authors did not live with wild people, or interview any. The book will not thoroughly erase your cultural programming and make you wild and free, nor will it transform you into a wild hunter-gatherer, shaman, sorcerer, or medicine woman.

The book’s subtitle is “Free Your Body and Mind from the Afflictions of Civilization.” But most of the major afflictions of civilization are not targeted — automobiles, television, cell phones, computers, education, wage slavery, materialism, submitting to masters. Despite this omission, the book does provide interesting discussions about a variety of lesser-known afflictions.

Go Wild is a self-help book that offers many suggestions for eating better and living better. Sugar is poison. Shun grains, including whole grains, and avoid all other foods rich in carbohydrates — bananas, honey, potatoes, organic fruit juice, and so on. It’s far healthier to get your calories from fats. Run regularly, outdoors, not on a treadmill. Sleep 8.5 hours every night. Avoid artificial light. Forge tribe-like bonds with your marathon-running buddies. Practice meditation to revive your mindfulness, contentment, and joy.
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Format: Hardcover
PROS: If you have never heard of a Paleo lifestyle, this book might be a good introduction. It contains very basic information and a little bit of advice, as well as a few scientific studies to back up some of the authors' claims.
CONS: This book was very autobiographical and focused heavily on the two authors' experiences. I had hoped for a lot of interesting practical advice, but most of the advice that was given was pretty basic: "Get more sleep." "Don't sleep with dogs barking; use soothing sounds instead." "Eat little to no grain." "Spend time in nature." "Spend time with people." The worst thing about the book was that it had no endnotes, footnotes, or bibliography, so every time I came across a study they discussed, I had no way to check up on what the original study was or what it said. Often, they would make scientific claims that I remembered reading debunks of, so that was especially frustrating. I couldn't tell if they were using the old studies I had seen debunked, or some kind of newer version I had not heard of and that was better run than the original. The book is very pro-running, which seemed more an artifact of the authors' personal preference than actual data. If you like running, that's great, but you need a lot more evidence before you can claim that all hunters run long-distance or that evolutionary adaptations since humankind's spreading from Africa haven't changed things. (Incidentally, their argument for why running long distances must be the best exercise is based on the idea that many hunters in African hunter-gatherer groups run down antelopes. Sorry, but were the women in these hunter-gatherer groups hunters, too? If they weren't hunting, why would they be running such long distances so frequently?
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Format: Kindle Edition
With a title like "Go Wild" you may have the impression that the concept is to move to the woods, eat leaves and start running barefoot. It's nothing like that... although... The main theme from this book written by a Harvard medical doctor (psychiatrist) and an award-winning journalist is how do we get back to health and fulfillment before modern society took over. Actually, the authors go way back to pre-Neanderthal man through hunting/gathering societies and then to agricultural societies to see how these changes of civilization as a whole has created a negative impact on our lives today.

The hunter/gatherer (or "wild" part of the premise) vs agricultural society is interesting as a hook, but I would have liked a comparison in how more recent societies (say pre-WWII), even here in the US, used the principles in this book for better body and mind:

fresh air
regular, outdoor exercise
unprocessed,seasonal food
full night's sleep
tight communities

Some of what Dr. Ratey and Mr. Manning said makes sense, but outdoor running isn't for everyone--nor how millions of people used to get their exercise--and dropping all carbs really depends on more than being someone who lives in the US.

BIG PRO: Dr. Ratey/ Mr. Manning had many examples of studies and important topics, ex. getting Vitamin D (sitting in front of a window indoors isn't the same as outdoors) and belonging to a "Tribe" or community (which we've almost completely lost in the US. Facebook ain't it, right? But Christmas with the relatives, nightmare). I was particularly interested in the topic of how abuse in childhood has a long term affect on the health and well-being of the person years later. This is a serious topic that I think needs to be addressed more.
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