If I got to make a list of people on this planet I'd like to meet, Robert Sapolsky would be one of them. This guy is brilliant, hysterical, accessible, and informative in thousands of different ways. His writing can be extremely technical, explaining the details of hormones and neuroscience on every page --- but then goes on to give vivid, delightful illustrations of how those "invisible" forces in our bodies show up in the real world. In us. And in baboons. Other animals. And zebras (hence, the title.)
The purpose is to illustrate why we, as individuals, and a Western society, experience stress, and how it manifests as sickness in so many ways. Real sickness, with short term results and long term diseases. In our bodies, not "in our minds", not something we should just "get over". His words and proof is validating scientifically, and a call to action. Our behavior, and the structure of our society, is making us sick. It's not humane to do what we do to ourselves. And we can change this.
I'd like to see this book as mandatory reading for every policy-maker in health and human services. But I certainly wouldn't stop there. Managers, top to bottom, need it to understand the pressures on their employees and organizations. Scientists who work with people, or whose work affects people. Anyone who causes, or experiences, stress. Hmmm....does that leave anyone out?
Okay, not everyone will want to read this book, because it's pretty technical, not designed for an uneducated reader. But the lessons in it are for everyone. I understand Sapolsky is regarded as one of the top neuroscientists in the world, and that's no surprise. What I'm grateful for is that he shares his knowledge in something other than a scientific journal, and it's an amazing read. It will be on my reference shelf permanently, but unlike the others which I use for "reference" --- I will also read it often just because it's a great read. Imagine that.
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