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Books > Science & Math > Biological Sciences > Anatomy > B00C8S9VCK
  1. The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health, and Disease
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  2. The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health, and Disease

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    Customer Ratings (255 reviews)
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In this landmark book of popular science, Daniel E. Lieberman—chair of the department of human evolutionary biology at Harvard University and a leader in the field—gives us a lucid and engaging account of how the human body evolved over millions of years, even as it shows how the increasing disparity between the jumble of adaptations in our Stone Age bodies and advancements in the modern world is occasioning this paradox: greater longevity but increased chronic disease.
The Story of the Human Body brilliantly illuminates as never before the major transformations that contributed key adaptations to the body: the rise of bipedalism; the shift to a non-fruit-based diet; the advent of hunting and gathering, leading to our superlative endurance athleticism; the development of a very large brain; and the incipience of cultural proficiencies. Lieberman also elucidates how cultural evolution differs from biological evolution, and how our bodies were further transformed during the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions.
While these ongoing changes have brought about many benefits, they have also created conditions to which our bodies are not entirely adapted, Lieberman argues, resulting in the growing incidence of obesity and new but avoidable diseases, such as type 2 diabetes. Lieberman proposes that many of these chronic illnesses persist and in some cases are intensifying because of “dysevolution,” a pernicious dynamic whereby only the symptoms rather than the causes of these maladies are treated. And finally—provocatively—he advocates the use of evolutionary information to help nudge, push, and sometimes even compel us to create a more salubrious environment.

(With charts and line drawings throughout.)

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Daniel Lieberman
Kindle Edition
Kindle eBook
Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?) The first part of the book is about human evolution from apes to Homo sapiens with a lot of interesting information about hominins (AKA hominids) and how we became bipedal and developed language and culture. The second part is about how the rise of agriculture and then the industrial revolution changed the health of our bodies for better and for worse. The third part is about how to cope with what Lieberman calls "mismatch diseases" and "dysevolution."

Lieberman's style is surprisingly readable considering that he has written scores of articles for peer-reviewed journals. There is some repetition (some of it on the same page!) but most of it is didactic because Lieberman is a teacher and he wants us to understand the great environmental and cultural changes that have taken place in the last 50,000 years or so since we became behaviorally modern humans. He is an expert on the human body, especially the head and the feet. Known as "the barefoot professor" at Harvard where he... Read more
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?) 'The Story of the Human Body' is a well-written book tailored for the curious nonscientist who wants to learn more about how our evolutionary history influences the sorts of ailments that we suffer from, particularly those that we often attribute to simple aging. This is a book primarily for the layman - if you've taken a good general life science course as a high school or college student you'll be able to survive the jargon just fine - and it's to author Daniel Lieberman's credit that he was able to write such an engaging, conversation book without overly simplifying the science behind his argument. The science itself is noncontroversial, and Lieberman does a great job distinguishing between the indisputable facts of the fossil record and what we can infer and assume based on our understanding of modern primitive peoples. Lieberman's central argument won't be new to anyone who's studied evolutionary theory and health sciences, but it's probably one that most people have not... Read more
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?) "The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health, and Disease" by Daniel Lieberman (Oct. 2013), [approx. 370 pages of text, & another 60 pages of notes]. Okay, yes, this is a study of the evolution and development of us: mankind. The author doesn't start by hypothesizing how "man" evolved by some fish deciding to become a beachcomber and then standing upright. He avoids the "early" Darwin picture. Instead, the author fast-forwards his journey by picking up mankind's evolutionary traits "about six million years or so to a forest somewhere in Africa" (p.21).

But where is this journey going to take us? As the author postulates: "We didn't evolve to be healthy, but instead we were selected to have as many offspring as possible under diverse, challenging conditions. As a consequence, we never evolved to make rational choices about what to eat or how to exercise in conditions of abundance and comfort... If we wish to halt this vicious circle [of continuing to pass `bad'... Read more
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