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The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance

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The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance Cover

ISBN13: 9781617230127
ISBN10: 161723012x
All Product Details

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The New York Times bestseller — with a new afterword about early specialization in youth sports.

The debate is as old as physical competition. Are stars like Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, and Serena Williams genetic freaks put on Earth to dominate their respective sports? Or are they simply normal people who overcame their biological limits through sheer force of will and obsessive training?

In this controversial and engaging exploration of athletic success and the so-called 10,000-hour rule, David Epstein tackles the great nature vs. nurture debate and traces how far science has come in solving it. Through on-the-ground reporting from below the equator and above the Arctic Circle, revealing conversations with leading scientists and Olympic champions, and interviews with athletes who have rare genetic mutations or physical traits, Epstein forces us to rethink the very nature of athleticism.

Review:

“I can't remember a book that has fascinated, educated — and provoked — me as much as The Sports Gene. Epstein has changed forever the way we measure elite athletes and their achievements.” Malcom Gladwell

Review:

“Clear, vivid, and thought-provoking writing that cuts through science anxiety for rank-and-file sports fans.” Bonnie Ford, Senior Writer, ESPN

Review:

“Many researchers and writers are reluctant to tackle genetic issues because they fear the quicksand of racial and ethnic stereotyping. To his credit, Epstein does not flinch.” The Washington Post 

Review:

“Epstein's rigour in seeking answers and insights is as impressive as the air miles he must have accumulated...his book is dazzling and illuminating.” The Guardian

Review:

“Few will put down this deliciously contrarian exploration of great athletic feats.” Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

Review:

“The narrative follows Mr. Epstein's search for the roots of elite sport performance as he encounters characters and stories so engrossing that readers may not realize they're receiving an advanced course in genetics, physiology, and sports medicine.” The New York Times

Review:

“An important book...The Sports Gene is bound to put the cat among the pigeons in the blank-slate crowd who think that we can all be equal as long as we equalize environmental inputs such as practice.” The Wall Street Journal

Synopsis:

What explains the Manning brothers, the Williams sisters, and all those worldclass Jamaican sprinters?

Do superstar athletes like Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps owe their success to genetic luck? Or are they basically normal people who overcame their biological limits through sheer force of will and obsessive training?

In this acclaimed New York Times bestseller, David Epstein tackles the ancient nature versus nurture debate by exploring the latest scientific research. He shows why some skills that we assume are innate, like the speedy reactions of a baseball batter, are not, and why other characteristics that we assume are entirely voluntary, like an atheletes will to train, might have important genetic components.

About the Author

David Epstein is an award-winning investigative reporter at ProPublica, and was previously a senior writer at Sports Illustrated. He earned All-East honors on Columbia University's varsity track squad, and has a masters degree in environmental science.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

marinaliarsky, October 20, 2014 (view all comments by marinaliarsky)
I found The Sports Gene to be an excellent read. Epstein is targeting the debate of nature vs. nurture in sports performance by incorporating great interviews and current genetics research. Absolutely recommended!
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
Tung, July 22, 2014 (view all comments by Tung)
I heartily recommend it to anyone who's interested at all in the "nature vs. nurture" debate about how people become elite runners, basketball players, etc. Epstein draws upon lots of cutting edge research into genetics and sports performance to explain, among other things, how professional baseball players can hit 95 mph pitches when the reaction time available to them is barely more than the time it takes to coordinate a thought into action (answer: years of experience has given each of them a "memory map" that enables them to make reasonably good predictions about how the pitch will travel based on a split second view of the pitcher's delivery) to why Kenyans and Ethiopians seem to dominate middle- and long-distance running while Jamaicans seem to dominate sprinting (answer: a combination of factors ranging from cultural to the proportion of fast twitch to slow twitch muscle fibers favoring sprinting or distance running to, in the case of the East Africans, living at the sweet spot of altitude training ~ 6000-8000 feet above sea level).

In any sort of work on sports performance and gene science, race inevitably looms in the background. To his credit, Epstein doesn't shy away from discussing race, but neither does he channel Al Campanis (who infamously blundered into the subject with the sensitivity of a drunken rhino). As the sprinting vs. long-distance running example mentioned above demonstrates, people from different parts of the world excel at different types of athletic competitions. Epstein points out that the individual record for the 100 meter sprint in Kenya isn't good enough to qualify for the Olympics; as dominant as the Kenyans are in the distance events, they're totally uncompetitive in the sprints. Epstein doesn't say this explicitly, but what I drew from the book is that when we Americans talk about "race" and sports, we do so in a very obtuse way because we lump people into "white," "black," "Latino," or "Asian," when in fact there can be a significant amount of diversity within those crude racial categories.

If there's a book that The Sports Gene reminds me of, it's Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel, which similarly examined race and cultural through a completely new lens (of geography).
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781617230127
Subtitle:
Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance
Author:
Epstein, David
Publisher:
Current
Subject:
General Sports & Recreation
Subject:
Sports and Fitness-Sports General
Edition Description:
Paperback / softback
Publication Date:
20140431
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Pages:
352
Dimensions:
8.44 x 5.5 in 1 lb
Age Level:
from 18

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Related Subjects

Featured Titles » General
Featured Titles » New Arrivals » Nonfiction
Featured Titles » Staff Picks
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » Anatomy and Physiology
Sports and Outdoors » Sports and Fitness » Exercise
Sports and Outdoors » Sports and Fitness » General
Sports and Outdoors » Sports and Fitness » Medicine Nutrition and Psychology
Sports and Outdoors » Sports and Fitness » Sports General
Sports and Outdoors » Sports and Fitness » Sports Medicine and Kinesiology
Sports and Outdoors » Sports and Fitness » Sports Psychology

The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance New Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$17.00 In Stock
Product details 352 pages Current - English 9781617230127 Reviews:
"Review" by , “I can't remember a book that has fascinated, educated — and provoked — me as much as The Sports Gene. Epstein has changed forever the way we measure elite athletes and their achievements.”
"Review" by , “Clear, vivid, and thought-provoking writing that cuts through science anxiety for rank-and-file sports fans.”
"Review" by , “Many researchers and writers are reluctant to tackle genetic issues because they fear the quicksand of racial and ethnic stereotyping. To his credit, Epstein does not flinch.”
"Review" by , “Epstein's rigour in seeking answers and insights is as impressive as the air miles he must have accumulated...his book is dazzling and illuminating.”
"Review" by , “Few will put down this deliciously contrarian exploration of great athletic feats.”
"Review" by , “The narrative follows Mr. Epstein's search for the roots of elite sport performance as he encounters characters and stories so engrossing that readers may not realize they're receiving an advanced course in genetics, physiology, and sports medicine.”
"Review" by , “An important book...The Sports Gene is bound to put the cat among the pigeons in the blank-slate crowd who think that we can all be equal as long as we equalize environmental inputs such as practice.”
"Synopsis" by , What explains the Manning brothers, the Williams sisters, and all those worldclass Jamaican sprinters?

Do superstar athletes like Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps owe their success to genetic luck? Or are they basically normal people who overcame their biological limits through sheer force of will and obsessive training?

In this acclaimed New York Times bestseller, David Epstein tackles the ancient nature versus nurture debate by exploring the latest scientific research. He shows why some skills that we assume are innate, like the speedy reactions of a baseball batter, are not, and why other characteristics that we assume are entirely voluntary, like an atheletes will to train, might have important genetic components.

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