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Human Biodiversity: Genes, Race, and History (Foundations of Human Behavior) Paperback – December 31, 1995

5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0202020334 ISBN-10: 0202020339

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Outstanding Title!... Marks traces the history of scientific attempts to describe and account for human biological variation. Covering the 17th century to the present, his study stresses the derivation of scientific ideas from the social problems and values with which they share history… A highly readable, thought-provoking, and comprehensive treatment of popular and scholarly interest in race and human variation. General readers; upper-division undergraduates and above.”

—S. A. Quandt, Choice

“[Jonathan Marks’s] thoughtful and witty book is about one of the “wrongest” of scientific notions: namely, the idea that the human species can be divided into discrete biological subunits, or races…. Marks casts his book as both an introduction to the current state of human genetics and a cautionary historical tale about what happens when scientists do not examine their most basic assumptions. Beginning in 1699 with the publication of Edward Tyson’s famous comparison of a human and a chimp, Marks structures his historical account around the assumptions that have given rise to the 20th-century biological concept of race…. What Marks has given us is truly a “people’s history of human biodiversity.” I do not know of a more lively and heartfelt introduction.”

—Misia Landau, American Anthropologist

About the Author

Jonathan Marks is a professor of anthropology, at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. He earned his M.S. in genetics, and M.A. and Ph.D. in anthropology at the University of Arizona, and has conducted postdoctoral research in genetics at the University of California at Davis. Mark's work on "molecular anthropology" has been widely published in professional journals.

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Product Details

  • Series: Foundations of Human Behavior
  • Paperback: 321 pages
  • Publisher: Aldine Transaction (December 31, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0202020339
  • ISBN-13: 978-0202020334
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #840,505 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jonathan Marks is Professor of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where he has taught since the beginning of the present millennium, after stretches at Yale and Berkeley. He is the author of "What It Means to Be 98% Chimpanzee" (2002) and "Why I Am Not a Scientist" (2009), both published by the University of California Press. Paradoxically, however, he is about 98% scientist, and not a chimpanzee.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 8, 1999
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is excellent introduction to the thorny topic of human biodiversity. The book's real strength lies in the fact that Marks brings in historical material which illuminates the ideological underpinnings of work on human diversity. Dr. Marks, at the time this book was written was a visiting professor at UC/Berkeley. He had studied anthropology at the University of Arizona and genetics at UC/Davis. According to a note on the copyright page he is known for his work in molecular anthropology. The book's 14 chapters take an extremely broad view of human diversity, both cultural and biological, and of the attempts to understand and explain that diversity. The book covers the history of anthropology's attempts to understand human biodiversity, the evolution of primates, the eugenics movement, a critique of the biological race concept, patterns of human variation - both phenotypic and genotypic, the nature and function of human variation, the role of human variation in health and disease and a critique of hereditarian theory. An appendix discusses DNA structure and function. The chapters are generally well written and referenced. The book is written for an academic audience or at least a reader with a strong foundation in biology. I found the critique of the biological race concept to be the most lucid and well thought out one that I have ever read. Marks points out that a division of humans into three or four primordial races seems to ignore the long history of human intermingling. Either there has always been intermingling among humans - in which case the very concept of biologically separated races is wrong from the start - or intermingling is a more recent phenomenon in which case race may have been relevant in the past but no longer is.Read more ›
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9 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 13, 1998
Format: Paperback
I read this book while taking a correspondence course in physical anthropology from Univ. of Cal. at Berkeley. It is a textbook for a course on biodiversity.
The book is about 280 pages and is subtitled genes, race and history. It has 14 chapters. The book's major theme is how culture and science have interacted around the issue of race.
Marks is both an anthropologist and a biologist, so the book presents a clear and thorough explanation of genetics in the context of how Western culture has chosen to interpret--and misinterpret--human differences.
It was the clearest, most enjoyable and thorough inquiry into the idea of race I have ever read. It greatly changed how I view human biodiversity.
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41 of 69 people found the following review helpful By Matt Nuenke on April 20, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book is very similar to Gould's "The Mismeasure of Man" except it attacks eugenics more straightforwardly and is even more shameless; just a series of lies and half-truths. But first, let me say that the eugenics movement at the turn of the century did have two fundamental stumbling blocks: a belief in simple Mendelian principles of heredity, and a belief in class and elitism. Until universal education finally took hold in only the last few decades, where bright students are encouraged to get advanced degrees, elitism or a sense of aristocracy and moral certitude was part culture. But culture changes. So this book, like Gould's, uses old arguments against new concepts that are no longer relevant.
What is even more strange however, is that almost every diatribe against understanding group differences and investigating why and how humans behave has now been turned around. At one time, like folk medicine, folk eugenics was in fact largely pseudoscience in that doctrine drove the science without adequate academic peer review or oversight. But now, the opposite is occurring. The radical egalitarians, those die-hard Marxists that reject science they do not like, are attacking academically reviewed work without providing any evidence to the contrary. This is how he describes pseudoscience, and it is in fact what this book is all about. Half-truths and accusations against behavior genetics and evolutionary psychology, fields that have now matured and are solidly in the mainstream. And social scientists? Still floundering around trying to make sense of failed programs and broken promises. They accuse institutional racism for poverty but they provide no proof or evidence.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By myg3ar on January 17, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I needed this for a class in college. Now in my 30's I find myself referencing sections at gatherings with friends.
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0 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ramirez on May 7, 2012
Format: Paperback
The book was in the same condition as the description specified. The book arrived within reasonable time and it was exactly what I was looking for.
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