An illuminating look at what the brave new world of the future may hold.

THE GENOME FACTOR

WHAT THE SOCIAL GENOMICS REVOLUTION REVEALS ABOUT OURSELVES, OUR HISTORY, AND THE FUTURE

A fresh look at the nature vs. nurture debate and the role of race in shaping intelligence and personality.

Conley (Sociology/Princeton Univ.; Parentology, 2014, etc.) and Fletcher (Public Affairs and Sociology/Univ. of Wisconsin) explore one of the main contentions made by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray in their 1994 book, The Bell Curve: that “social policy to promote equal opportunity is counterproductive since individuals have reached the level of social status best suited to their native abilities.” Admittedly, there may well be “a gene for aggression,” but whether it lands a person in jail or a corporate boardroom depends on social factors. The subtleties inherent in the nature/nurture debate are often illuminated in studies of family dynamics. Surprisingly, the authors have found strikingly different educational outcomes within families due to the complex relationships between parents and siblings—e.g., when parents favor kids with athletic skills. The authors debunk the explanation that genetic superiority is a determining factor in the relationship between class and race and put the positive effects of racial diversity under the microscope. The relationship is also a product of “migration patterns from thousands of years ago” as well as cultural taboos regarding marriage. Ethnicity does play an important role, write the authors, but this may be explainable by proximity and rivalry for resources rather than genetics. Nonetheless, genetic diversity may be desirable because it offers protection against diseases. One classic example was the decimation of Native Americans due to the introduction of smallpox by colonists. Conley and Fletcher speculate about the future and how our increasing knowledge about the genome will directly shape mate choice, a more specific variant of our current preferences regarding race and appearance. They also touch on the possibility of genetic engineering, which would allow wealthy parents to produce designer-engineered offspring of their choosing. Six appendices briefly explore more technical issues such as epigenetics.

An illuminating look at what the brave new world of the future may hold.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-691-16474-8

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Princeton Univ.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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