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Pandora's Seed: Why the Hunter-Gatherer Holds the Key to Our Survival Paperback – September 13, 2011

ISBN-13: 978-0812971910 ISBN-10: 0812971914 Edition: 1st

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Pandora's Seed: Why the Hunter-Gatherer Holds the Key to Our Survival + Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; 1 edition (September 13, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812971914
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812971910
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #623,742 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Spencer Wells takes us on an exciting tour of the last ten thousand years of our history in order to forewarn us of what we shall have to deal with in the next fifty years.”—Jared Diamond, professor of geography at UCLA and Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Guns, Germs, and Steel

“An important book for our times . . . If Spencer Wells continues producing books like this, he has the potential to become a pop anthropology guru like Margaret Mead, whose work engendered much good. The world needs to know not only how to want less, but also about how to want the things that will take us into the next ten millennia.”—New York Journal of Books

“Civilisation is the problem, not the solution. . . . Wells combines a cogent account of human evolution with an urgent call for global cultural  reform.”—The Times (London)

“The seed from Pandora’s box is spread far and wide in this stimulating and enjoyable book.”—Financial Times

“Wells’s writing combines a deep knowledge of the history of human evolution with a most engaging and lively manner of making that story come alive.”—Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University and author of Tradition and the Black Atlantic
 
“Well written . . . full of detail and fascinating anecdotes.”—New Scientist

About the Author

 
Spencer Wells is an Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society and Frank H. T. Rhodes Class of ’56 Professor at Cornell University. He leads the 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. Wells received his Ph.D. from Harvard University and conducted postdoctoral work at Stanford and Oxford. He has written two books, The Journey of Man and Deep Ancestry. He lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife, a documentary filmmaker.
 


From the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Spencer Wells is an Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society and Frank H. T. Rhodes Class of '56 Professor at Cornell University. He leads the 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. Wells received his Ph.D. from Harvard University and conducted postdoctoral work at Stanford and Oxford. He has written three books, The Journey of Man, Deep Ancestry, and Pandora's Seed. He lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife, a documentary filmmaker.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Leo on October 20, 2012
Format: Paperback
The author presented a serious description backed by data and evidence on how our species evolved faster than what our genetic evolution can handle. It inspires the reader to become aware on how important it is for our health and well being to recoup, or at least try to, the costumes of our old hunter gatherer nature. He also puts all his views in the perspective of actual modern western life, global warming, energy and environmental problems we face going forward, genuinely inspiring the reader to feel commitment towards a better world and species. The only reason I did no give 5 stars is that I found the writer lacked a little bit of ability to make me feel a smooth transition between topics and chapters. Sometimes felt a little choppy. Minor point. Excellent book overall
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Lit Lovers Lane on April 16, 2014
Format: Paperback
After reading Wells’ The Journey of Man and loving it, I couldn’t wait to dig into Pandora’s Seed, which promised to illuminate how “advanced” the hunter-gatherer societies were and what modern man can learn from these times for sustainability. Where there were a plethora of interesting ideas and facts, I must admit the book never grabbed me for a couple of reasons.

As I said, there are fascinating ideas and much to learn from this book for sure. Who wouldn’t be interested in discovering how the world’s population explosion today has its root in the ending of the hunter-gatherer lifestyle and the dawn of agricultural society? Whose ears (or eyes in this case) wouldn’t perk up at the contention that modern society is a breeding ground for illness and disease that was totally foreign to the Paleolithic era. I know I was grabbed by Wells’ claim that our modern style of living fosters conflict and war unheard of in hunter-gatherer societies. These were just a few of the gems in this book, but getting to those gems is where the problem lay for me.

One issue I had with Pandora’s Seed was the feeling of reading for long stretches not quite sure why I was reading about whatever the current topic was or what point the author was trying to make. In all fairness, the point always became clear eventually, but throughout the book, I had a constant nagging feeling of being just the tiniest bit lost.

This disoriented feeling seemed to be compounded by another feature of the book. Throughout, Wells raises another topic and tells us that to learn more about the topic, he (and the reader) must go here – here being either another time, another place, or both. The ‘tale’ jumps around so frequently, the reader could be excused for claiming jet lag.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Bette Inman on June 4, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the most detailed study (available to the non-scientific community) that gives one a good overview of the HapMap project and the on-going and vital study of the human diet. If one isn't looking around at the state of our fellow humans and the effects of the modern diet, you must be asleep at the wheel. The current food chain has been set up for profit and is not based on solid science or concern for the future of the species. Wells has a proven background in both the human genome and genetics. He is bringing intelligent vision to what we are doing to ourselves and how we must identify and make course correction for the same of humanity - not for profit - but for the sake of the planet.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Brett Williams on May 25, 2014
Format: Paperback
According to Wells, we traded longer, healthier lives in greater balance with nature (though not perfection) with less or almost no warfare as hunter-gatherers, for certainty as agriculturalists. The cause for this swap appears to have been climatic, with the help of six thousand feet of mountain top blown off as initiator of volcanic winter and its after effects. Nearly exterminated as a species, we tumbled to a mindboggling bottom of perhaps 2000 humans between us and extinction. Wow…Enjoyable are the connections Wells makes between seemingly unrelated issues: needs of our physical biology vs. opposing mental desires for certainty; agricultural civilizations vs. morality; how cultures of dependence on nature would become cultures controlling nature, robbing humans of a spiritual dimension we seem to be born with.

For me, Wells’ book stalled in chapters 5 & 6, but his final chapter 7, “Toward A New Mythos” grabbed my brain with such ferocity, my eyes scorched the page in at least a half-dozen places. (Because so much of my own creation – albeit a fiction – deals with these same issues, thus why I fell out of my chair during this last chapter). It was there Wells nailed together the lumber he’d arranged in previous sections to erect the final structure he planned. And it boils down to this: Out of necessity for survival, we humans have created benefits and one hell of a mess. Not only for our very bodies built on genes in accord with a natural world, but also for the social organizations created as a result of the agricultural revolution 10,000 years ago; governments to follow; the planet and our moral / religious / spiritual selves, whipsawed by modernity with all this change we relentlessly insist on.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By William L. Vacca on July 4, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a very interesting subject. Spencer wells is a terrible writer but this is the best of his three books. I would imagine that he is learning how to write for the masses. The problem with this topic is that every day something new
Is discovered. Sometimes the new knowledge simply adds to his book and other times it contradicts what he has written. I think wells would be the first to admit that. Loved the book anyway. Let me recommend Guns, Germs,
And Steel by Jacob Diamond. He looks at this topic from a different perspective.
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