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The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health, and Disease Reprint Edition
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Lieberman's style is surprisingly readable considering that he has written scores of articles for peer-reviewed journals. There is some repetition (some of it on the same page!) but most of it is didactic because Lieberman is a teacher and he wants us to understand the great environmental and cultural changes that have taken place in the last 50,000 years or so since we became behaviorally modern humans. He is an expert on the human body, especially the head and the feet. Known as "the barefoot professor" at Harvard where he is the head of the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology, Lieberman is at the pinnacle of his profession and so what he writes about the human body and the environment is highly significant.
To give us as much information as possible, Lieberman begins in Part I with the Australopithecus apes and examines how they got around on two legs as they gradually evolved into the various archaic humans and finally into Homo sapiens. This early part of the book, about one-third of the total, gives the reader a good, contemporary understanding of the various early hominids such as Homo erectus, Homo neanderthalensis, Homo rudolfensis, etc. and how their bodies and habits differed from one another and from Homo sapiens.Read more ›
I'm particularly impressed with the last chapter of the book. Most recent science books I've read that are written for a nonprofessional audience tend to either fall apart toward the end or have ridiculous wrapups that have little connection to the text that preceeded it. The last chapter of this book, on the other hand, reads like an extended essay examining the pragmatism of implementing our evolutionary knowledge to many of the potential solutions to improve our health. Truth be told, unless we're going to abandon civilization en masse and return to a hunter-gatherer lifestyle, any changes we make to get closer to the lifestyles that our bodies evolved for are going to necessarily be incomplete. But they will be for the better.Read more ›
But where is this journey going to take us? As the author postulates: "We didn't evolve to be healthy, but instead we were selected to have as many offspring as possible under diverse, challenging conditions. As a consequence, we never evolved to make rational choices about what to eat or how to exercise in conditions of abundance and comfort... If we wish to halt this vicious circle [of continuing to pass `bad' genes to our children] then we need to figure out how to respectfully and sensibly nudge, push, and sometimes oblige ourselves to eat foods that promote health...." (p. xii).
No, this is not some health-fanatic's book urging us to eating several wheel-barrels full of veggies every day. The author notes how we differ from our knuckle-dragging ancestors, such as we lost our earlier heavily powerful jaw muscles and bulky jaws as our forefathers began eating meats rather than subsisting totally on nuts, fruits, and tubers.
As the "Look Inside" feature was not available at the time of this review, following are the chapter contents, which really present a very good review of the innards of this book.
(Chpt. 1) Introduction: What are humans adapted for?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It helped me to understand the origins of human biggest paradox on one side inmmense technological advance and the other huge poverty and hundreds of new diseases as a result of... Read morePublished 5 days ago by Amazon Customer
We are all products of evolution. Nature has selected us to be here, still surviving and multiplying. Read morePublished 10 days ago by John Petralia
This book has little new for anyone with any degree of familiarity with the subject matter. The rapid crash course on the evolution, and particularly the development of humanity... Read morePublished 2 months ago by NJ
I found this book to be one of the most fascinating that I have read. Lieberman starts with an explanation of human evolution and then uses that explanation to show us why we may... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Life Long Student
Although I don't believe in Evolution, I gained some insight on the human body and why it functions the way it does.Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer