From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. There are many things one might expect to find within the covers of a collection of essays by a Stanford professor of biology and neurology: a rich understanding of the complexities of human and animal life; a sensitivity to the relationship between our biological nature and our environmental context; a humility in the face of still-to-be-understood facets of the human condition. All these are in Sapolsky's new collection, along with something one might not expect: wry, witty prose that reads like the unexpected love child of a merger between Popular Science
, written by an author who could be as much at home holding court at the local pub as he is in a university lab. In this collection (the majority of pieces ran in Discover
, others in Men's Health
, the New Yorker
and Scientific American
), Sapolsky ranges wherever his formidable curiosity leads, from genetic determinism as seen through the eyes of People
magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People" to the reasons why crotchety old people are neurologically disinclined to like whatever passes for music among young people nowadays. Each essay brings its own unexpected delight, brief enough that you can dip a toe in, yet insightful enough to encourage you to pursue the topic further (and Sapolsky helpfully appends to each essay a list of suggested further readings). (Sept.)
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"A hit . . . Sapolsky lets his obsessive curiosity wander amiably. . . . Most compelling when the animal behavior he is reckoning with is our own." -- The New York Times Book Review
"One of the best scientist-writers of our time." -- Oliver Sacks
"The author [is] a luminary among that rare breed -- the funny scientist." -- Los Angeles Times
"Sapolsky writes in a jocular, entertaining style without ever pandering to the presumed ignorance of his readers." -- The Guardian (London)
"Delightful in a way that science writing rarely is." -- The Denver Post