Synopses & Reviews
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.
“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
“Clear, vivid, and thought-provoking writing that cuts through science anxiety for rank-and-file sports fans.” Bonnie Ford, Senior Writer, ESPN
“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
“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
“Few will put down this deliciously contrarian exploration of great athletic feats.” Kirkus Reviews (Starred 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
“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
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.