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The Paleo Manifesto: Ancient Wisdom for Lifelong Health Paperback – May 20, 2014
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“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
From the Hardcover edition.
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
From the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
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. The last chapter in Origins is on the Information Age, titled "Biohackers." Here he talks about all the new technology and information we have, and how people use it to "hack" their health.
In Part Two: Here and Now, John does give the obligatory discussion of food but not in a typical, boring way we've read in diet books (sorry diet book authors!). He discusses topics like counting calories, eating earth/clay/dirt, cannibalism, and fasting. Then he moves on to a chapter about movement (exercise). He tells of his experience with CrossFit and MovNat, and about humans needing the proper motivation to exercise. Then a brief chapter on barefoot walking and running with a cool sidebar of authors who wrote standing up. I found the chapter on Thermoregulation very cool! John writes about his experience as a part of the Coney Island Polar Bear Swim Club; taking a swim on New Year's Day in the Atlantic Ocean! In contrast, he mentions the benefits of sweat baths and saunas. This is stuff I'm really looking forward to experimenting with. He ends Part Two with a discussion of circadian rhythm (Sunrise, Sunset). This is an incredibly important chapter with good info about SPF levels of sunscreen lotion and vitamin D.
In Part Three, John talks about the future of the paleo movement and our evolution. He tells about his first experience hunting and discusses the arguments vegans and vegetarians make against the paleo lifestyle, including sustainability.
This is definitely an essential book for everyone who eats and/or follows this paleo lifestyle. It's very well-written and fun to read. It's more of a beach book than a text book, for sure. My overall "feel" for the book is that it's more of a why we should live this way. But not necessarily the in-depth science behind why; more of the evolutionary, anthropological reason. Get it! Read it!
Reading this book helped me gain a deeper perspective on the modern man's attempt to "dial back the clock". I now have a stronger historical and biological basis for my knowledge of Paleo. I was particularly interested in the sections where Durant covers ancient Hebrew culture and the Bible. First of all, it was unexpected (no Paleo book I've read covered this angle). Second, I had never made some of the connections from the viewpoint that Durant does, even though I have read Genesis and Leviticus hundreds of times. This is just one example of the insights that I gained from reading this book.
As a result of reading this book, I have a stronger knowledge base for answering the question "Why are you trying to live like a caveman?"
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.