- Hardcover: 256 pages
- Publisher: Random House; 1 edition (June 8, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1400062152
- ISBN-13: 978-1400062157
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.9 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 71 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #756,349 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Pandora's Seed: The Unforeseen Cost of Civilization 1st Edition
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Customers who bought this item also bought
From Publishers Weekly
More food but also disease, craziness, and anomie resulted from the agricultural revolution, according to this diffuse meditation on progress and its discontents. Wells (The Journey of Man), a geneticist, anthropologist, and National Geographic Society explorer-in-residence, voices misgivings about the breakthrough to farming 10,000 years ago, spurred by climate change. The food supply was more stable, but caused populations to explode; epidemics flourished because of overcrowding and proximity to farm animals; despotic governments emerged to organize agricultural production; and warfare erupted over farming settlements. Then came urbanism and modernity, which clashed even more intensely with our nomadic hunter-gatherer nature. Nowadays, Wells contends, we are both stultified and overstimulated, cut off from the land and alienated from one other, resulting in mental illness and violent fundamentalism. Wells gives readers an engaging rundown of the science that reconstructs the prehistoric past, but he loses focus in trying to connect that past to every contemporary issue from obesity to global warming, and his solution is unconvincingly simple: Want less. B&w photos. (June 8)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
A geneticist and author of two general-interest titles (The Journey of Man, 2002; Deep Ancestry, 2006), Wells in this work concentrates on the beginnings of agriculture some 10,000 years ago. Intrigued by traces of the transition from hunter-gatherer times that can be interpreted from the human genome, Wells chats with researchers on this topic and translates their methods and findings into jargon-free language. Combining the DNA discussions with descriptions of archaeological evidence, Wells maintains that putting away the spear and taking up the plow have not been unalloyed boons to humanity. Ascribing obesity, diabetes, malaria, dental decay, and other maladies to the carbohydrate- and sugar-rich diet unboxed by Pandora and the agricultural revolution, Wells further indicts another product of agrarian society, civilization, for contributing to mental illnesses. Pursuing this line of argument to modern anxieties about genetic selection in human reproduction and about climate change, Wells will appeal to a variety of science readers, including those interested in genetic anthropology, health, and the future course of human evolution. --Gilbert Taylor
Browse award-winning titles. See more
Top customer reviews
Little did our ancestors know that along with farming, they were also sowing the seeds of overpopulation, disease, obesity, mental illness, climate change and even violent fundamentalism. At least according to Pandora's Seed.
I enjoyed the early chanpters of this book where Wells discussed early man. His points about farming and early urbanization are clearly made, as are his ideas that the plentiful supply of food that could be grown rather than searched for set the stage for the development of diseases like diabetes. But as he delved into other topics it seemed like his ideas were less based on science and more on conjecture. I first noticed this in his chapter on mental illness, but it carried through the rest of the book.
By the time I finished the chapters on climate change and religious fundamentalism it felt like Wells was stretching his ideas almost to the breaking point. Granted, he didn't say anything I disagree with; but it was starting to feel less like science and more like an agenda.
Wells has much of interest to say. I just wish he'd be a little more clear when he's speaking for science and when he's speaking for himself.
You will learn about the gene for lactose tolerance, why and when it came about, and what it means about homo sapiens history. Best of all, it will be conveyed in a gripping manner that feels more like entertainment than learning, which aids tremendously in retention.
As a whole, what you will get is the story of Homo sapiens rise over the last 200,000 years. As our amazing journey from quaint beginnings to global hegemony unfolds you'll learn how and why we know what we know about our history.
Mr Wells is best when he is talking about genetic science, which he knows in depth. However, he also tackles issues such as our contemporary environmental challenge, psychiatric disorders and religious fundamentalism. I found these secondary discussions interesting in terms of the questions that are raised but ultimately they remain rather shallow and simplistic. For example he writes at length about the conflict between science and religion (or as he terms it mythos vs. logos) but he ends up sitting on the fence. I accept the dilemma that humans seek meaning as well as knowledge. But we need to take a position so as to sift away the myths of the past that frequently impair rather than enhance our capacity for adapting to the challenges of the contemporary world. Ultimately, as Karen Armstrong has written, humans will always tell myths just as they produce art. But the beauty of art (pun intended) is that art can provide meaning and depth to our lives without the risk of confusing it with knowledge or truth. Again Mr Wells analyzes the problem but leaves us stranded without direction.
In the final chapter the author summarizes the issues which suggest humanity is on an unsustainable and catastrophic course. He then proposes a `solution' by suggesting that we need to learn to `want less.' As a rallying call this slogan makes sense. But again it is a rather hollow call. The only realistic way we might bring about such a major change in the course of history is via regulation (and global regulation at that). The road to this goal will be arduous and will require that we build consensus, while defeating misplaced ideas and beliefs. Mr Wells has left us with just the slogan and no further practical guidance. But it is an important an important start and Pandora's Seed is an important book despite my few critical comments.
Author of The Bridge