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Pandora's Seed

Why the Hunter-Gatherer Holds the Key to Our Survival

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Paperback published by Random House Trade Paperbacks (Random House Publishing Group)

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About This Book

Ten thousand years ago, our species made a radical shift in its way of life: We became farmers rather than hunter-gatherers. Although this decision propelled us into the modern world, renowned geneticist and anthropologist Spencer Wells demonstrates that such a dramatic change in lifestyle had a downside that we’re only now beginning to recognize. Growing grain crops ultimately made humans more sedentary and unhealthy and made the planet more crowded. The expanding population and the need to apportion limited resources created hierarchies and inequalities. Freedom of movement was replaced by a pressure to work that is the forebear of the anxiety millions feel today. Spencer Wells offers a hopeful prescription for altering a life to which we were always ill-suited. Pandora’s Seed is an eye-opening book for anyone fascinated by the past and concerned about the future.

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Ten thousand years ago, our species made a radical shift in its way of life: We became farmers rather than hunter-gatherers. Although this decision propelled us into the modern world, renowned geneticist and anthropologist Spencer Wells demonstrates that such a dramatic change in lifestyle had a downside that we’re only now beginning to recognize. Growing grain crops ultimately made humans more sedentary and unhealthy and made the planet more crowded. The expanding population and the need to apportion limited resources created hierarchies and inequalities. Freedom of movement was replaced by a pressure to work that is the forebear of the anxiety millions feel today. Spencer Wells offers a hopeful prescription for altering a life to which we were always ill-suited. Pandora’s Seed is an eye-opening book for anyone fascinated by the past and concerned about the future.

Product Details
Paperback (256 pages)
Published: September 13, 2011
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Imprint: Random House Trade Paperbacks
ISBN: 9780812971910
Other books bySpencer Wells
  • Deep Ancestry

    Deep Ancestry
    Inside The Genographic Project
    Travel backward through time from today's scattered billions to the handful of early humans who lived in Africa 60,000 years ago and are ancestors to us all. In Deep Ancestry, scientist and National Geographic explorer Spencer Wells shows how tiny genetic changes add up over time into a fascinating story. Using scores of real-life examples, helpful analogies, and detailed diagrams and illustrations, he explains exactly how each and every individual's DNA contributes another piece to the jigsaw puzzle of human history. The book takes readers inside the Genographic Project—the landmark study now assembling the world's largest collection of DNA samples and employing the latest in testing technology and computer analysis to examine hundreds of thousand of genetic profiles from all over the globe—and invites us all to take part.

    Meeting the Family

    Meeting the Family
    One Man's Journey Through His Human Ancestry
    Donovan Webster brings his vivid journalistic gifts to a new subject, tracing our deep genealogy using cutting-edge DNA research to map our eons-old journey from prehistoric Africa into the modern world. With the same genetic haplotype as many white American males, Webster makes an ideal subject—he is a genuine Everyman. While his voice and spirit are unique to him, in exploring his own ancestry, he shows us our own. Drawing on National Geographic’s Genographic Project, the largest anthropologic DNA study of its kind, Webster traces centuries of migrations, everywhere finding members of his now far-flung genetic family. In Tanzania’s Rift Valley, he hunts with Julius, whose tribe speaks a click language, and wanders the ruins of ancient Mesopotamia with Mohamed and Khalid, now Jordanian citizens. In Samarkand, Uzbekistan, eastern frontier of his ancestral roaming, a circus ringmaster becomes both friend and link to his primal bloodline. Webster’s genographic quest leads him to contemplate what traits he shares with those he meets, and considers what they and their ways of life reveal about the deep history of our species. A lifetime of journalistic travels among a wide range of cultures furnish Webster with a wealth of colorful threads to weave into a story as particularly personal as it is universally human.

    The Journey of Man

    The Journey of Man
    A Genetic Odyssey
    Around 60,000 years ago, a man—genetically identical to us—lived in Africa. Every person alive today is descended from him. How did this real-life Adam wind up as the father of us all? What happened to the descendants of other men who lived at the same time? And why, if modern humans share a single prehistoric ancestor, do we come in so many sizes, shapes, and races? Examining the hidden secrets of human evolution in our genetic code, Spencer Wells reveals how developments in the revolutionary science of population genetics have made it possible to create a family tree for the whole of humanity. Replete with marvelous anecdotes and remarkable information, from the truth about the real Adam and Eve to the way differing racial types emerged, The Journey of Man is an enthralling, epic tour through the history and development of early humankind.

    El Viaje del Hombre

    El Viaje del Hombre
    Una Odisea Genetica

Favorite QuotesFROM THIS BOOK
  • As I write this, I am 36,000 feet above the Arabian Sea, sipping a glass of wine and typing on my laptop.

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  • Most countries, however, concerned about the dangers of another Chernobyl-like disaster, as well as the political difficulties of waste disposal (who wants to live near a nuclear waste...

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  • It will mean learning from peoples that retain a link back to the way we lived for virtually our entire evolutionary history. And it might allow us to stick around for the next two...

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