The Story of the Human Body by Daniel Lieberman

The Story of the Human BodyThe history of our bodies in terms of evolution, is a complex and fascinating subject. I have been intrigued since childhood, walking The Hall of Man at any natural history museum worth its salt that I could visit.

Daniel Lieberman is a Harvard professor of human evolutionary biology, as well as a gifted storyteller.  He tells the story of human evolution in a manner that is readable like a biography, and as compelling at times as any thriller. What made humans become bipedal? (Hint: to see over tall grasses!) Why did we move from hunting and gathering our food, to farming it? What aspects of our development contributed (and continue to contribute) to diseases that plague us?

Booklist, in its review, summed it up best as, “Like it or not, we are slightly fat, furless, bipedal primates who crave sugar, salt, fat, and starch.” We have large brains that require a lot of energy, and that drove most of our evolutionary process – the need to feed the brain glucose. Lieberman argues that humans are not meant to be farmers, nor to eat grains as a main sustenance. And that farming may be the worst thing that could have happened in our evolution.

I found the chapters on nutrition to be the most interesting and salient to our present day world. How our bodies have not really changed much since the Stone Age, but the world has become one of abundance and obesogens. Our bodies, which were designed for feast and mostly famine, are now living in a world of fast food. Lieberman addresses this and more.

Lieberman is a talented popular science writer. What could have easily become mired in jargon is explained for the layperson. He unfurls a story of our ancestors that compels the reader to want to explore more.

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2 Responses to “The Story of the Human Body by Daniel Lieberman”

  1. cathysapien Says:

    Thanks for the recommendation. Very interesting topics.

  2. Best ‘New to Us’ Books in 2014: Heidi B’s Picks | Wake County Libraries "Book a Day" Staff Pick Says:

    […] The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health, Disease by Daniel Lieberman The history of our bodies, in terms of evolution, is a complex and fascinating subject. Lieberman is a Harvard professor of human evolutionary biology, as well as being a gifted writer. He tells the story of human evolution in a manner that is readable like a biography, and as compelling at times as any thriller. What made humans become bipedal? (hint: to see over tall grasses!) Why did we move from hunting and gathering our food, to farming it? What aspects of our development contributed (and continue to contribute) to diseases that plague us? Lieberman is a talented and popular science writer. What could have easily have become mired in jargon is explained for the layperson. A fascinating read.  See my full review. […]

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