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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A forceful, necessarily provocative call to action for the preservation and protection of American Jewish freedom.

HOW TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM

Known for her often contentious perspectives, New York Times opinion writer Weiss battles societal Jewish intolerance through lucid prose and a linear playbook of remedies.

While she was vividly aware of anti-Semitism throughout her life, the reality of the problem hit home when an active shooter stormed a Pittsburgh synagogue where her family regularly met for morning services and where she became a bat mitzvah years earlier. The massacre that ensued there further spurred her outrage and passionate activism. She writes that European Jews face a three-pronged threat in contemporary society, where physical, moral, and political fears of mounting violence are putting their general safety in jeopardy. She believes that Americans live in an era when “the lunatic fringe has gone mainstream” and Jews have been forced to become “a people apart.” With palpable frustration, she adroitly assesses the origins of anti-Semitism and how its prevalence is increasing through more discreet portals such as internet self-radicalization. Furthermore, the erosion of civility and tolerance and the demonization of minorities continue via the “casual racism” of political figures like Donald Trump. Following densely political discourses on Zionism and radical Islam, the author offers a list of bullet-point solutions focused on using behavioral and personal action items—individual accountability, active involvement, building community, loving neighbors, etc.—to help stem the tide of anti-Semitism. Weiss sounds a clarion call to Jewish readers who share her growing angst as well as non-Jewish Americans who wish to arm themselves with the knowledge and intellectual tools to combat marginalization and defuse and disavow trends of dehumanizing behavior. “Call it out,” she writes. “Especially when it’s hard.” At the core of the text is the author’s concern for the health and safety of American citizens, and she encourages anyone “who loves freedom and seeks to protect it” to join with her in vigorous activism.

A forceful, necessarily provocative call to action for the preservation and protection of American Jewish freedom.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-593-13605-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2019

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ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN

Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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