A TROUBLESOME INHERITANCE

GENES, RACE, AND HUMAN HISTORY

A freethinking and well-considered examination of the evidence “that human evolution is recent, copious, and regional.”

Deploying his natural science background, New York Times journalist Wade (The Faith Instinct: How Religion Evolved and Why It Endures, 2009, etc.) strides into the political minefield of genetic influence on racial differences.

The author would be the first to admit that the classification of humans into races—and the possibility of there being a genetic component to the variations—has been hijacked to propagate invidious policies, from racism to eugenics to the Holocaust, which in turn has made further study of how genetics may play a role in the history of the races taboo. Nonetheless, Wade asks, is it inevitable that comparing races foments racism? Why wouldn’t one look to genes for traits: literacy, nonviolence, thrift, numeracy, etc.? In a fluid tone, the author dusts the fingerprints of “natural selection as it molded and reworked the genetic clay.” First, he examines the less-contentious material of social behavior—cooperating with the group, following norms, punishing violators—as well as elements of fairness and reciprocity within the group, intuitive morality and “genetically influenced behaviors, the expression of which is shaped by culture.” Is it really a stretch, as Edward Wilson was pilloried for suggesting, that “[h]armful cultural practices may lead to extinction, but advantageous ones create selective pressures that can promote specific genetic variants.” Following evolutionary theory and history, Wade also tackles some time-worn curiosities. Why did the Industrial Revolution happen where it did? Because the rich, with more surviving offspring, infused their values throughout English society and a critical mass was reached in the human economic behavior that had evolved over the previous 10,000 years. What force shaped the nature of Ashkenazi Jewish intelligence, their skill with words and numerals? It is possible that their engagement in moneylending, which was cognitively demanding but also rewarding, “was important because it enabled Jews to secure a considerable degree of reproductive success.”

A freethinking and well-considered examination of the evidence “that human evolution is recent, copious, and regional.”

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-59420-446-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 16


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2017


  • New York Times Bestseller


  • IndieBound Bestseller


  • National Book Award Finalist

KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 16


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2017


  • New York Times Bestseller


  • IndieBound Bestseller


  • National Book Award Finalist

Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Close Quickview