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The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health, and Disease Paperback – Illustrated, July 1, 2014

4.7 out of 5 stars 719 ratings

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Editorial Reviews


“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.’”
CommonHealth, WBUR
“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.”
The Guardian

“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.”
Library Journal

“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.”
—Kirkus Reviews

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.

Product details

  • Publisher : Vintage; Illustrated edition (July 1, 2014)
  • Language: : English
  • Paperback : 480 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 030774180X
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0307741806
  • Item Weight : 15.5 ounces
  • Dimensions : 5.11 x 0.91 x 7.9 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.7 out of 5 stars 719 ratings

Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5
719 global ratings
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Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on September 8, 2016
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Reviewed in the United States on August 17, 2016
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Craig Inskip
5.0 out of 5 stars Life Changing...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 24, 2017
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13 people found this helpful
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F. J. Gilbert
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the problems we have today
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 24, 2016
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great insight and very educational
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 21, 2016
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great insight and very educational
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 21, 2016
In this book Daniel goes through the evolution of the human body, followed by talking about mismatch diseases and effects of sugar, fat, salt and low activity on human body, which I found quite educating read.

You will find out such things for example such as how body converts sugar into energy, energy consumption by hunter gatherers versus modern human, brain size relative to primates and what being not active does to our body. These are only few snippets from the book, there is much more.

The book covers quite a lot of stuff. In human evolution part he talks about Apes and Humans and our common ancestors, on how we became bipedals, following by culture and rise of farming which caused our population to explode which exposed us to all sorts of diseases and then ending book with looking at whats causing certain mismatch diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and how our body responds to them.

By reading this book you will learn more about human evolution, on how environment and history made us who we are today. You will also learn more about the way your body works, health, diet and what can cause certain mismatch diseases. The book is eye opener and I would highly recommend it to read it through.
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5.0 out of 5 stars First part of the book establishes Mr Lieberman's credentials - ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 15, 2018
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Thomas Frankl
5.0 out of 5 stars The gap between cultural and genetic evolution, and why it makes us sick
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 17, 2020
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