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The Paleo Manifesto: Ancient Wisdom for Lifelong Health Hardcover – September 17, 2013

4.5 out of 5 stars 220 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“In an age of material abundance and high technology, why are we failing to thrive? Why are so many of us fat, tired, achy, depressed? Starting with the insight that every species is well suited to its natural habitat, John Durant explores how we might alter our own habits and habitats in ways that allow us to flourish. Durant is original, open-minded, and the nicest and smartest caveman you’ll ever meet. The Paleo Manifesto is brimming with ideas and a fascinating read.”
–Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and New York Times bestselling author of How the Mind Works and The Better Angels of Our Nature
“Anyone who runs barefoot from Harlem to Brooklyn, argues with Harvard anthropologists, and rips the lid off Bambi’s lies in the name of science is a writer worth listening to. John Durant’s goal is simple--to make everyone as strong as Tarzan--and to achieve it, he’s ripping apart decades of dangerously misguided medical opinions in search of ancient human truths. He’s not taking us back in time; he’s using his own body as a testing ground in pursuit of a healthier future.”
–Christopher McDougall, New York Times bestselling author of Born to Run
“To paraphrase George Santayana, those who forget the past are doomed to be fat, sluggish, and sickly. John Durant is here to help us remember. In this fascinating and wide-ranging book, Durant gathers the best lessons from human history--and not just the Paleolithic. We also learn health tips from Moses, Victor Hugo, 19th century British undertakers, and lowland gorillas. Read this book as a hardcover, e-book, or stone tablet, but read it.”
–A.J. Jacobs, New York Times bestselling author of The Year of Living Biblically and Drop Dead Healthy
“Amid the mass confusion of our diet-obsessed culture, The Paleo Manifesto stands out as fun, refreshing, and sensible. Durant has a knack for story-telling, weaving his exploits as a modern hunter-gatherer into lessons for healthy living--all based on solid evidence from evolution and biochemistry. The Paleo Manifesto is the new common sense.”
–Mark Sisson, author of The Primal Blueprint and publisher of MarksDailyApple.com
“Whether you are a skeptic or a believer, you’ll admire Durant’s passionate and highly personal advocacy for living a paleo lifestyle.”
–Daniel Lieberman, Professor of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University
“Durant’s provocative manifesto is bound to inspire necessary discussion about the nature of our food and the role of evolution in determining a healthy diet.”
–Gary Taubes, New York Times bestselling author of Good Calories, Bad Calories and Why We Get Fat

"The Paleo Manifesto is likely the most important contribution to the concept of ancestral health since Boyd Eaton's original The Paleolithic Prescription."
–Robb Wolf, New York Times bestselling author of The Paleo Solution

“In many respects we have become ‘zoo humans,’ living unnatural lives--and the cost of this disconnect from our wild origins is greater than we imagine. John Durant is a bright and original thinker, and here he makes a compelling case for the health benefits of a life rooted in evolutionary principles. Insightful and inspirational, The Paleo Manifesto is a masterpiece.”
–Erwan Le Corre, founder of MovNat
The Paleo Manifesto explores a way of life that we’ve forgotten, and convincingly argues that we should re-think the way we live.”
–Will Dean, founder and CEO of Tough Mudder
“John Durant offers a guided tour of our evolutionary heritage, showing how an ancestral lifestyle can improve our health and happiness. (And it works for animals, too!) Entertaining yet profound, The Paleo Manifesto is a book you won’t want to stop reading--but you will, because you’ll be so eager to start living its advice!”
–Paul Jaminet, Ph.D., author of Perfect Health Diet
“John Durant has a gift for relating complex and seemingly disparate ideas in an engaging and accessible way. His habitat-based approach on how to eat, exercise, and enjoy a healthy lifestyle invokes the same concept we use to promote animal health and welfare in zoos: the natural history of the species is paramount. Those deeply committed to the survival of species--our own and others--will gain a unique and fresh perspective on the biological, cultural, and anthropological underpinnings of longevity by reading this book. It should not only be in the hands of human and animal health experts but be required reading for anyone who is--or takes care of--an omnivore, carnivore, or vegetarian.”
–Dr. Kristen E. Lukas, Curator of Conservation & Science, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
The Paleo Manifesto is the most up-to-date user manual for the human animal. A splendid synthesis of ancient wisdom and modern science, this book is essential reading.”
–Barefoot Ted McDonald, ultrarunner, primal athlete, and founder of Luna Sandals
“A first glimpse of a new and better world.”
–Seth Roberts, Emeritus Professor of Psychology, UC Berkeley, and New York Times bestselling author of The Shangri-La Diet

“Durant groks hackers of all kinds -- and he places biohackers in their rightful place at the cutting edge of the health movement, pioneering new and better ways of living. Biohackers will love The Paleo Manifesto.”
-Patrick Vlaskovits, founder of PaleoHacks.com and New York Times bestselling author of The Lean Entrepreneur
“Don’t let the stone tool on the cover fool you, John Durant is no caveman wannabe. On his thoroughly entertaining adventures, Durant discovers that all of our ancestors – from unicellular bacteria to present-day parents – have a little something to teach us about how to be healthy in the modern world.”
-Aaron Blaisdell, President, Ancestral Health Society, and Professor, UCLA Department of Psychology

About the Author

JOHN DURANT is a leader of the growing ancestral health movement. Durant studied evolutionary psychology at Harvard prior to founding Paleo NYC and Barefoot Runners NYC, the largest paleo and barefoot running groups in the world. He has been featured in The New York Times and on The Colbert Report and NPR. He blogs at HunterGatherer.com


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Harmony; 1 edition (September 17, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307889173
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307889171
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (220 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #61,164 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John Durant is the author of The Paleo Manifesto and co-author of Spartan Fit! by Joe De Sena, founder of Spartan Race (July 2016).

John is the founder of Wild Ventures, an angel syndicate focused on consumer health products & technology. He advises Thrive Market, Exo, AOBiome, Greatist, Brilliant Bicycles, Hu Kitchen, and Power Supply.

John studied evolutionary psychology at Harvard under Steven Pinker before moving to New York City and becoming a "professional caveman": mimicking a hunter-gatherer diet, running barefoot through Central Park, experimenting with intermittent fasting, and doing polar bear swims in the Atlantic. He has been featured in the New York Times and The New Yorker, interviewed on The Colbert Report and NPR Morning Edition, and has been rated one of The 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness. Prior to becoming a professional caveman, he spent three and a half years at an ad tech startup after a stint in management consulting.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
I didn't know what to expect from The Paleo Manifesto. My original thoughts were "Oh, great. Yet another paleo diet book. How many times/ways can we talk about the paleo diet?" But I was quite relieved while reading this book and finding out that it was not another diet book. As John has discussed many times during his interviews, he did not set out to write another diet book. He wanted to write a book about the paleo lifestyle. He has said that he hates reading diet books. I'm beginning to feel the same way; so this book is a welcome relief from those.

The Paleo Manifesto is divided into 3 parts: Origins (the past), Here and Now (the present), and Visions (the future). After Chapter 1 - where he tells the story of "Becoming the Caveman" including his appearance on Colbert - he starts Origins by discussing the health and behaviors of captive gorillas, comparing that to modern day humans being kept in a "zoo city" away from our natural environment. Then in the Paleolithic Age chapter, he tells about his trip to Harvard's Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology where he got to hold a skull from 80,000 years ago. He tells about the changes our Paleolithic ancestors went through leading up to the Agricultural Age. Chapter 4 is mostly a discussion about disease, cleanliness, and the rise of cities.

In the chapter on the Industrial Age, John discusses the rise of modern society and medicine: "we learned how to not die." I really liked the discussion about habitat features in that chapter: "features that were constant (e.g., gravity), features that were cyclical over a certain period (e.g., day and night), and features that were varied within certain bounds (e.g., temperature)." This reminded me of Nassim Taleb's Antifragile which I read recently.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I just finished John Durant's new book, The Paleo Manifesto. It would be a total misunderstanding to say it's "another book on the paleo diet." If your only concern is what to eat and why, you might want to pick up Jaminet's Perfect Health Diet, a book that Durant himself cites. Paleo Manifesto is a very broad overview regarding what it takes for humans to thrive in an environment that shares very little in common with any historical time period.

I think my favorite section is a historical overview of humanity running from our animal predecessors to man living today. Within this section, I particularly enjoyed reading about the adaptations ancient Jews made when living in densely populated areas. Despite living more than two-thousand years before the discovery of the Germ Theory of disease, early Jewish peoples, through the Law of Moses, adopted hygienic practices that were remarkably successful at reducing the impact of agrarian civilizations' biggest scourge, communicable disease.

Another theme running throughout the book is the rediscovery of "why", with respect to many cultural practices. For example, South American Indians pre-processed maize/corn using a process called nixtamalization. When Europeans started raising and eating corn they never adopted the process. Many Europeans who ate this corn developed pellagra, a terrible disease caused by niacin deficiency. Now with the benefit of hindsight we know that nixtamalization freed up niacin into a readily absorbable form. The book covers many such rediscoveries.

The sections on exercise, fasting, sleep, thermoregulation, hunting, are as much narrative/self-discovery as they are instructions on adaptations the reader should make. The book does a good job weaving n=1 research, historical traditions and modern science together into a very readable package.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
John Durant's new book about the many facets of a true pale lifestyle makes for a fun and interesting read, however, I feel he overreached a bit in the breadth of the topics he covers. The Paleo Manifesto runs the gamut of lifestyle choices from food, to fertility rates of vegans, to the hand washing practices of ancient Jews. While Durant stuck to his overarching thesis that we should pay close attention to the evolutionary practices of our species and to ancient wisdom that has proven successful, he seems to make many sweeping pronouncements that read more like opinion than documented fact. I do appreciate that the medical community has been slow to catch up with the cutting edge research, so perhaps Durant was simply trying to push the envelope a bit. I still think the book would have been more successful if he reigned himself in to a slightly more limited scope of topics. Still, I found food for thought that wasn't simply a redux of all the Paleo literature already out there in the marketplace.
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Format: Hardcover
Although most current writing on "paleo" living focuses primarily on diet, Durant's new book goes far beyond just that -- providing the science, history, and overarching philosophy of why a paleo lifestyle makes sense -- and how adhering to one can alleviate a vast number of the health problems that plague us today.

In the first part, he begins with a fascinating overview of the history of the prehistoric human diet. He walks you through a compellingly-written reflection of the Mosaic law and the profound impact (for the better) it had on the health of the early Jewish people. And then he writes of how, beginning in the industrial age on through the information age, so much of what our bodies were used to (diet, environment, activity level) fell apart.

In the second part, he explains how a paleo lifestyle might be lived today. He covers not just the food one should eat and avoid (as countless others have), but many other aspects that keep our bodies operating at peak efficiency: fasting, exercise, standing, a variety of temperature (hot and cold to extremes), as well as the natural cycles of the day (the importance of sunlight, along with the necessity of sleep.)

In the final section, he gives mention to some more extreme practices that have lost favor but make sense in a paleo lifestyle: hunting and fishing for your own food. And then he does an adept job at covering the ethical debate that surrounds these practices in the modern day.

Durant does a brilliant job of bringing together so much research from a variety of disciplines.
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