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Pandora's Seed: The Unforeseen Cost of Civilization

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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

This new book by Spencer Wells, the internationally known geneticist, anthropologist, author, and director of the Genographic Project, focuses on the seminal event in human history: mankind's decision to become farmers rather than hunter-gatherers.

What do terrorism, pandemic disease, and global warming have in common? To find the answer we need to go back ten millennia, to the wheat fields of the Fertile Crescent and the rice paddies of southern China. It was at that point that our species made a radical shift in its way of life. We had spent millions of years of evolution eking out a living as hunter-gatherers. When we learned how to control our food supply, though, we became as gods—we controlled the world rather than it controlling us. But with godliness comes responsibility. By sowing seeds thousands of years ago, we were also sowing a new culture—one that has come with many unforeseen costs.

Taking us on a 10,000-year tour of human history and a globe-trotting fact-finding mission, Pandora's Seed charts the rise to power of Homo agriculturis and the effect this radical shift in lifestyle has had on us.

Focusing on three key trends as the final stages of the agricultural population explosion play out over this century, Wells speculates on the significance of our newfound ability to modify our genomes to better suit our unnatural culture, fast-forwarding our biological adaptation to the world we have created. But what do we stand to lose in the process? Climate change, a direct result of billions of people living in a culture of excess accumulation, threatens the global social and ecological fabric. It will force a key shift in our behavior, as we learn to take the welfare of future generations into account. Finally, the rise of religious fundamentalism over the past half-century is explained as part of a backlash against many of the trends set in motion by the agricultural population explosion and its inherent inequality. Ultimately, the world's present state of crisis will force us to evolve culturally, but can we self-correct our culture to solve these problems that we ourselves, in our race to succeed, have caused?

Review:

"Wells examines the positive and negative impact civilizations have had on the planet, from court hearings on genetically designed babies to the threat of environmental degradation on the Tuvalu Islands. His story brings the listener from a precivilized world to future possibilities that depend on the course of the next hundred years. Wells balances anecdotes and data with real world examples that embody the abstract concepts he proposes. However, his narration works against the material; the projection is inconsistent throughout, and at times, sentences that start strong sound breathless by the last few words. Wells's emphasis and modulation do not match the sophistication of the prose and fail to fully engage the listener. A Random hardcover (Reviews, Apr. 5). (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)

Synopsis:

Using the latest genetic and anthropological data, Spencer Wells demonstrates that although humankind's decision to control our own food supply is what propelled us into the modern world, it had many downsides that we're just now beginning to recognize.

Synopsis:

This new book by Spencer Wells, the internationally known geneticist, anthropologist, author, and director of the Genographic Project, focuses on the seminal event in human history: mankind's decision to become farmers rather than hunter-gatherers. What do terrorism, pandemic disease, and global warming have in common? To find the answer we need to go back ten millennia, to the wheat fields of the Fertile Crescent and the rice paddies of southern China. It was at that point that our species made a radical shift in its way of life. We had spent millions of years of evolution eking out a living as hunter-gatherers. When we learned how to control our food supply, though, we became as gods-we controlled the world rather than it controlling us. But with godliness comes responsibility. By sowing seeds thousands of years ago, we were also sowing a new culture-one that has come with many unforeseen costs.Taking us on a 10,000-year tour of human history and a globe-trotting fact-finding mis

About the Author

Spencer Wells is an explorer-in-residence at the National Geographic Society and the director of the Genographic Project. After studying under genetic pioneer Luigi Cavalli-Sforza at Stanford University, Spencer began an unusual career that mixes science, writing, and filmmaking. His acclaimed first book, The Journey of Man, combined his own DNA research with the work of archaeologists, paleoanthropologists, paleoclimatologists, and linguists to show how modern humans came to populate the planet. He is also the author of Deep Ancestry. Spencer Wells is an explorer-in-residence at the National Geographic Society and the director of the Genographic Project. After studying under genetic pioneer Luigi Cavalli-Sforza at Stanford University, Spencer began an unusual career that mixes science, writing, and filmmaking. His acclaimed first book, The Journey of Man, combined his own DNA research with the work of archaeologists, paleoanthropologists, paleoclimatologists, and linguists to show how modern humans came to populate the planet. He is also the author of Deep Ancestry.

Product Details

ISBN:
9781400116263
Author:
Wells, Spencer
Publisher:
Tantor Media Inc
Location:
Old Saybrook
Subject:
Human Geography
Subject:
General
Subject:
Civilization
Subject:
Environmental Science
Subject:
Sociology - General
Subject:
General Nature
Edition Description:
Unabridged,Unabridged CD
Publication Date:
20100631
Binding:
COMPACT DISC
Language:
English
Dimensions:
5.3 x 6.4 x 1.1 in 0.4 lb
Media Run Time:
390

Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Sociology » General
History and Social Science » Western Civilization » General
History and Social Science » World History » Western Civilization
Science and Mathematics » Environmental Studies » General

Pandora's Seed: The Unforeseen Cost of Civilization New Compact Disc
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Product details pages Tantor Media - English 9781400116263 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Wells examines the positive and negative impact civilizations have had on the planet, from court hearings on genetically designed babies to the threat of environmental degradation on the Tuvalu Islands. His story brings the listener from a precivilized world to future possibilities that depend on the course of the next hundred years. Wells balances anecdotes and data with real world examples that embody the abstract concepts he proposes. However, his narration works against the material; the projection is inconsistent throughout, and at times, sentences that start strong sound breathless by the last few words. Wells's emphasis and modulation do not match the sophistication of the prose and fail to fully engage the listener. A Random hardcover (Reviews, Apr. 5). (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"Synopsis" by , Using the latest genetic and anthropological data, Spencer Wells demonstrates that although humankind's decision to control our own food supply is what propelled us into the modern world, it had many downsides that we're just now beginning to recognize.
"Synopsis" by ,
This new book by Spencer Wells, the internationally known geneticist, anthropologist, author, and director of the Genographic Project, focuses on the seminal event in human history: mankind's decision to become farmers rather than hunter-gatherers. What do terrorism, pandemic disease, and global warming have in common? To find the answer we need to go back ten millennia, to the wheat fields of the Fertile Crescent and the rice paddies of southern China. It was at that point that our species made a radical shift in its way of life. We had spent millions of years of evolution eking out a living as hunter-gatherers. When we learned how to control our food supply, though, we became as gods-we controlled the world rather than it controlling us. But with godliness comes responsibility. By sowing seeds thousands of years ago, we were also sowing a new culture-one that has come with many unforeseen costs.Taking us on a 10,000-year tour of human history and a globe-trotting fact-finding mis
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