- Paperback: 480 pages
- Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (July 1, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 030774180X
- ISBN-13: 978-0307741806
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 339 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #56,145 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.
The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health, and Disease Reprint Edition
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
“Monumental . . . an epic voyage that reveals how the past six million years shaped every part of us—our heads, limbs, and even our metabolism. . . . Through Lieberman’s eyes, evolutionary history not only comes alive, it becomes the means to understand, and ultimately influence, our body’s future.”
—Neil Shubin, author of Your Inner Fish
“Fascinating. . . . A readable introduction to the whole field and great on the making of our physicality.”
“Sweeping. . . . Convincingly makes the case for a wholesale rethinking of how we live our modern lives.’”
“Riveting, enlightening, and more than a little frightening. . . . No one understands the human body like Daniel Lieberman or tells its story more eloquently.”
—Christopher McDougall, author of Born to Run
“These are not debates to gloss over or reduce to simple statements of cause and effect—they are stories with scientific complexity and tremendous, sometimes contradictory accumulations of evidence and detail. The Story of the Human Body does full justice to those stories, to that evidence and to that detail, and brings them to bear on daily health and well-being, individual and collective.”
—The Washington Post
“[Lieberman] is a true expert in a system where architecture and history intersect: the human foot. He ably describes how behavior and anatomy can lead to foot injuries in long-distance runners.”
—The Wall Street Journal
“The ultimate science-based Paleo investigation. . . . Convincing. . . . A great read, and I recommend it highly for those of you who are interested in learning the facts about our biological roots, and how we can rationally apply ‘Paleo’ concepts to prevent and reverse modern ‘mismatch’ diseases.”
—Dr. Ronald Hoffman, The Hoffman Center/Health Talk
“Eloquent and precise . . . Lieberman is the first to point out that modern living and technology have made our lives better in many ways. Still, a look back at where we came from can tell us a lot about where we’re headed, he says—and how we might alter that course for the better.”
“A doozy. . . . That humans are poorly adapted to our modern lifestyle of convenience foods, flat screens, and desk jobs isn’t very controversial. But how we best cope with this new reality often is. Lieberman takes on many popular notions, including barefoot running, the paleo diet, epigenetics, and a host of hot topics ranging from obesity and chronic disease to Nanny State politics.”
“[Lieberman’s] evolutionary approach produces some counterintuitive surprises. . . . The Story of the Human Body is a reliable guide to a problem that is going to get worse before it gets better.”
“In thoroughly enjoyable and edifying prose, Lieberman . . . leads a fascinating journey through human evolution. He comprehensively explains how evolutionary forces have shaped the human species as we know it. . . . He balances a historical perspective with a contemporary one . . . while asking how we might control the destiny of our species. He argues persuasively that ‘cultural evolution is now the dominant force of evolutionary change acting on the human body.’”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Lieberman gracefully combines paleontology, anatomy, physiology, and experimental biomechanics to clarify how the human body has evolved and how evolutionary design now clashes with the particularities of modern society. . . . An important book.”
“Lieberman holds nothing back. . . . He cleverly and comprehensively points out the perils of possessing Paleolithic anatomy and physiology in a modern world and bemoans ‘just how out of touch we have become with our bodies.’. . . If we want to continue our phenomenal run as a species, it is essential to understand (and embrace) our evolutionary legacy.”
“A massive review of where we came from and what ails us now . . . Would that industry and governments take heed.”
About the Author
Daniel E. Lieberman is professor of human evolutionary biology and the Edwin M. Lerner II Professor of Biological Sciences at Harvard. He has written more than one hundred articles, many appearing in the journals Nature and Science. Lieberman is especially well known for his research on the evolution of the human head and the evolution of running, including barefoot running (earning him the nickname the Barefoot Professor). His research and discoveries have been highlighted widely in newspapers, magazines, books, news programs, and documentaries.
Try the Kindle edition and experience these great reading features:
339 customer reviews
Review this product
Read reviews that mention
Showing 1-2 of 339 reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
This book delves into the evolutionary component of why we are like we are today. Truly understanding that goes a long way to helping me make better decisions on the kinds of foods I want to eat, how much and what kind of physical activity really helps me be healthy, and the importance of also getting enough good sleep. Much more than that is covered on what the modern human body has adapted to over the last 600 generations -- and more importantly, how much we've changed due to cultural evolution since man invented farming and the agricultural revolution changed everything. The lifestyle choices we have today were unknown tens of thousands of years ago and our bodies are paying the price for many of our choices… obesity, diabetes, heart disease & cancer to name just a few. All of these were virtually unknown to our long ago ancestors. How we've changed the world we live in, in terms of modern food choices, conveniences and lifestyles is at the root of why these diseases are currently at epidemic levels.
So much of what I was taught as a young person was simply… wrong. I just wish I would have started educating myself on this stuff decades ago. I'm now in my 60's and the books I've read over the last couple of years are helping me feel better on a daily basis and have improved my health overall. I'm on no meds, finally at a normal weight, and expect to be active and healthy for another couple of decades. (I couldn't say that 5 years ago.)
For further reading on how to help yourself feel better and become healthier start with any of the book by David Gillespie (such as Sweet Poison) or a movie on DVD called That Sugar Film - all available on Amazon.
The 13 chapters (including the introduction) are divided into three parts in a logical manner to address the book’s objective. After an introduction that lays groundwork for understanding human evolution in a broad sense, the first part describes human evolution up to the point where culture became dominant force for our species. It clarifies how we became bipedal, how our diets developed, how we got smart, and the ways in which the aforementioned characteristics are interconnected. The second part shifts from Darwinian evolution to cultural evolution, and—in particular—elucidates the effects that the agricultural and industrial revolutions had on the human body. These cultural forces act much faster than evolution. While some argue that humans aren’t really subject to evolutionary forces anymore, owing to cultural and technological advances, Lieberman points out that Darwinian evolution does still effect humanity, but its effect is muted by comparison to fast-acting cultural developments. The final part looks at humanity in the present and projects out into the future. It considers what effect an over-abundance of energy and a declining need for physical activity have had on our species, and what can be done about it.
This book is thought-provoking, well-organized, and uses narrative evidence and humor to enhance readability. (A discussion of the absurdity of products in the Skymall catalog—e.g. luxury items for pet—is a case in point.) It certainly gives on a good education about human evolution. Furthermore, while there are many books out there that deal with mismatch as a cause of diseases like obesity and diabetes, Lieberman also addresses under-explored issues like postural problems from chairs, the influence of shoes on running gait, and the development of nearsightedness because of our close-focusing ways.
I’d say the book’s greatest flaw comes in its discussions of solutions at the end. The author puts all his eggs in the basket of wholesale solutions aimed to make society as a whole improve, while he could do more to share the details of what individuals can do to solve their own problems. Lieberman considers why natural selection won’t solve problems of mismatch and dysevolution. Then he considers how research and development and educational campaigns can only provide partial solutions. His ultimate solution is suggesting regulatory paternalism—e.g. what economists call Pigovian taxes--taxes designed to change behavior by making bad behavior (in this case sedentary lifestyles and over-eating / malnutrition) more expensive. Perhaps such solutions (which will remain political untenable for the foreseeable future in the US, at least) may be necessary, but one shouldn’t conclude that readers with better information and ways of approaching the problem can’t make a difference. I say this based upon the fact that a substantial (if minority) portion of the population is already doing the right thing—eating right, exercising, and not succumbing to modernity’s creature comforts. I, furthermore, say it as a one trained as an economist who has seen easier attempts at paternalism fail over and over again.
I’d recommend this book. I think it gives the reader insight into the problems caused by being evolved to be one thing while being groomed by culture to be another.