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Pandora's Seed: The Unforeseen Cost of Civilization by Spencer Wills; 304.2 W456P 2010

{{9781400062157}}Growing up, my mother told me many stories. Most of them were about Uncle Joe, Aunt Rose, Grandma and Grandpa coming to this country, and the like. But some of the stories were different, they touched on more universal subjects and one of these attempted to explain something of human history and why certain antagonisms exist today between various individuals, kinds of individuals, and groups of human beings. It began, “ In the beginning, we moved around a lot…” She was describing a hunter-gatherer lifestyle.

As the story continued, she described the discovery of the principles of horticulture and the various ways they could be implemented and the string of events that inevitably followed the choice made, how one thing led to another, like dominoes falling in a row: how relationships between men and women, between ethnic and religious groups, between humanity and the other life that inhabits this planet, between humanity and nature, itself--changed when the majority of human beings decided that they were somehow separate, above or better than nature.

Then I saw something about this book, Pandora's Seed, in Publisher’s Weekly. In Pandora’s Seed, author and geneticist, Spencer Wills, uses these words, contrasting “controlling and conquering nature” with “cooperating” with it. My mother told this story simply, but Mr. Wells tells it in great detail, bringing to bear a huge reservoir of scientific knowledge. He relates the string of events that began with the first practice of agriculture, events that have impacted our physical health, our mental health, our longevity, our social organization, the incidence of crime and war…even the human genome. A fascinating read.

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