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Evolution


Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind Lowest new price: $11.94
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Author: Yuval Noah Harari
Brand: Harper Perennial

Official U.S. edition with full color illustrations throughout.

#1 New York Times Bestseller

The Summer Reading Pick for President Barack Obama, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg,  now available as a beautifully packaged paperback

From a renowned historian comes a groundbreaking narrative of humanity’s creation and evolution—a #1 international bestseller—that explores the ways in which biology and history have defined us and enhanced our understanding of what it means to be “human.”

One hundred thousand years ago, at least six different species of humans inhabited Earth. Yet today there is only one—homo sapiens. What happened to the others? And what may happen to us?

Most books about the history of humanity pursue either a historical or a biological approach, but Dr. Yuval Noah Harari breaks the mold with this highly original book that begins about 70,000 years ago with the appearance of modern cognition. From examining the role evolving humans have played in the global ecosystem to charting the rise of empires, Sapiens integrates history and science to reconsider accepted narratives, connect past developments with contemporary concerns, and examine specific events within the context of larger ideas.

Dr. Harari also compels us to look ahead, because over the last few decades humans have begun to bend laws of natural selection that have governed life for the past four billion years. We are acquiring the ability to design not only the world around us, but also ourselves. Where is this leading us, and what do we want to become?

Featuring 27 photographs, 6 maps, and 25 illustrations/diagrams, this provocative and insightful work is sure to spark debate and is essential reading for aficionados of Jared Diamond, James Gleick, Matt Ridley, Robert Wright, and Sharon Moalem.

Features:

  • New York Times Bestseller now available as a beautifully packaged paperback
  • A Summer Reading Pick for President Barack Obama, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg
  • From a renowned historian comes a groundbreaking narrative of humanity's creation and evolution-a #1 international bestseller-that explores the ways in which biology and history have defined us and enhanced our understanding of what it means to be "human."
  • One hundred thousand years ago, at least six different species of humans inhabited Earth. Yet today there is only one-homo sapiens. What happened to the others? And what may happen to us?

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Brief Answers to the Big Questions

Brief Answers to the Big Questions Lowest new price: $16.17
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Author: Stephen Hawking

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “Hawking’s parting gift to humanity . . . a book every thinking person worried about humanity’s future should read.”—NPR

The world-famous cosmologist and author of A Brief History of Time leaves us with his final thoughts on the biggest questions facing humankind.


Stephen Hawking was the most renowned scientist since Einstein, known both for his groundbreaking work in physics and cosmology and for his mischievous sense of humor. He educated millions of readers about the origins of the universe and the nature of black holes, and inspired millions more by defying a terrifying early prognosis of ALS, which originally gave him only two years to live. In later life he could communicate only by using a few facial muscles, but he continued to advance his field and serve as a revered voice on social and humanitarian issues.

Hawking not only unraveled some of the universe’s greatest mysteries but also believed science plays a critical role in fixing problems here on Earth. Now, as we face immense challenges on our planet—including climate change, the threat of nuclear war, and the development of artificial intelligence—he turns his attention to the most urgent issues facing us.

Will humanity survive? Should we colonize space? Does God exist? ​​These are just a few of the questions Hawking addresses in this wide-ranging, passionately argued final book from one of the greatest minds in history.

Featuring a foreword by Eddie Redmayne, who won an Oscar playing Stephen Hawking, an introduction by Nobel Laureate Kip Thorne, and an afterword from Hawking’s daughter, Lucy, Brief Answers to the Big Questions is a brilliant last message to the world.

Praise for Brief Answers to the Big Questions

“[Hawking is] a symbol of the soaring power of the human mind.”The Washington Post

“Hawking’s final message to readers . . . is a hopeful one.”—CNN

“Brisk, lucid peeks into the future of science and of humanity.”—The Wall Street Journal

“Hawking pulls no punches on subjects like machines taking over, the biggest threat to Earth, and the possibilities of intelligent life in space.”—Quartz

“Effortlessly instructive, absorbing, up to the minute and—where it matters—witty.”—The Guardian

“This beautiful little book is a fitting last twinkle from a new star in the firmament above.”The Telegraph

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Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow

Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow Lowest new price: $14.80
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Author: Yuval Noah Harari
Brand: Harper

Official U.S. edition with full color illustrations throughout.

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Yuval Noah Harari, author of the critically-acclaimed New York Times bestseller and international phenomenon Sapiens, returns with an equally original, compelling, and provocative book, turning his focus toward humanity’s future, and our quest to upgrade humans into gods.

Over the past century humankind has managed to do the impossible and rein in famine, plague, and war. This may seem hard to accept, but, as Harari explains in his trademark style—thorough, yet riveting—famine, plague and war have been transformed from incomprehensible and uncontrollable forces of nature into manageable challenges. For the first time ever, more people die from eating too much than from eating too little; more people die from old age than from infectious diseases; and more people commit suicide than are killed by soldiers, terrorists and criminals put together. The average American is a thousand times more likely to die from binging at McDonalds than from being blown up by Al Qaeda.

What then will replace famine, plague, and war at the top of the human agenda? As the self-made gods of planet earth, what destinies will we set ourselves, and which quests will we undertake? Homo Deus explores the projects, dreams and nightmares that will shape the twenty-first century—from overcoming death to creating artificial life. It asks the fundamental questions: Where do we go from here? And how will we protect this fragile world from our own destructive powers? This is the next stage of evolution. This is Homo Deus.

With the same insight and clarity that made Sapiens an international hit and a New York Times bestseller, Harari maps out our future.

An Amazon Best Book of February 2017: Those who read and loved Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens have been eagerly anticipating his new book Homo Deus. While Sapiens looked back at our evolutionary development, this new book examines where we might be headed (Homo Deus is subtitled “A Brief History of Tomorrow”). Predicting the future isn’t as easy as deconstructing the past, and Harari openly admits the challenge—but even if he’s completely wrong in his predictions, and most of us doubt he is, Homo Deus is the kind of provocative, food-for-thought read that drew so many of us to his work in the first place. According to Harari, our future could be very different from our present—dark, technocratic, and automated—but reading about our possible fates, presented in Harari’s clear-eyed and illuminating style, sure is fascinating. --Chris Schluep, The Amazon Book Review

Features:

  • Harper

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The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World

The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World Lowest new price: $17.15
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Author: Steve Brusatte

"THE ULTIMATE DINOSAUR BIOGRAPHY," hails Scientific American: A thrilling new history of the age of dinosaurs, from one of our finest young scientists. Now a New York Times bestseller!

"This is scientific storytelling at its most visceral, striding with the beasts through their Triassic dawn, Jurassic dominance, and abrupt demise in the Cretaceous." — Nature

The dinosaurs. Sixty-six million years ago, the Earth’s most fearsome creatures vanished. Today they remain one of our planet’s great mysteries. Now The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs reveals their extraordinary, 200-million-year-long story as never before.

In this captivating narrative (enlivened with more than seventy original illustrations and photographs), Steve Brusatte, a young American paleontologist who has emerged as one of the foremost stars of the field—naming fifteen new species and leading groundbreaking scientific studies and fieldwork—masterfully tells the complete, surprising, and new history of the dinosaurs, drawing on cutting-edge science to dramatically bring to life their lost world and illuminate their enigmatic origins, spectacular flourishing, astonishing diversity, cataclysmic extinction, and startling living legacy. Captivating and revelatory, The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs is a book for the ages.

Brusatte traces the evolution of dinosaurs from their inauspicious start as small shadow dwellers—themselves the beneficiaries of a mass extinction caused by volcanic eruptions at the beginning of the Triassic period—into the dominant array of species every wide-eyed child memorizes today, T. rex, Triceratops, Brontosaurus, and more. This gifted scientist and writer re-creates the dinosaurs’ peak during the Jurassic and Cretaceous, when thousands of species thrived, and winged and feathered dinosaurs, the prehistoric ancestors of modern birds, emerged. The story continues to the end of the Cretaceous period, when a giant asteroid or comet struck the planet and nearly every dinosaur species (but not all) died out, in the most extraordinary extinction event in earth’s history, one full of lessons for today as we confront a “sixth extinction.”

Brusatte also recalls compelling stories from his globe-trotting expeditions during one of the most exciting eras in dinosaur research—which he calls “a new golden age of discovery”—and offers thrilling accounts of some of the remarkable findings he and his colleagues have made, including primitive human-sized tyrannosaurs; monstrous carnivores even larger than T. rex; and paradigm-shifting feathered raptors from China.

An electrifying scientific history that unearths the dinosaurs’ epic saga, The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs will be a definitive and treasured account for decades to come.

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Things That Matter: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes and Politics [Deckled Edge]

Things That Matter: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes and Politics [Deckled Edge] Lowest new price: $13.99
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Author: Charles Krauthammer
Brand: Crown Publishing

From America’s preeminent columnist, named by the Financial Times the most influential commentator in the nation, the long-awaited collection of Charles Krauthammer’s essential, timeless writings.
 
A brilliant stylist known for an uncompromising honesty that challenges conventional wisdom at every turn, Krauthammer has for decades daz­zled readers with his keen insight into politics and government. His weekly column is a must-read in Washington and across the country. Now, finally, the best of Krauthammer’s intelligence, erudition and wit are collected in one volume.
 
Readers will find here not only the country’s leading conservative thinker offering a pas­sionate defense of limited government, but also a highly independent mind whose views—on feminism, evolution and the death penalty, for example—defy ideological convention. Things That Matter also features several of Krautham­mer’s major path-breaking essays—on bioeth­ics, on Jewish destiny and on America’s role as the world’s superpower—that have pro­foundly influenced the nation’s thoughts and policies. And finally, the collection presents a trove of always penetrating, often bemused re­flections on everything from border collies to Halley’s Comet, from Woody Allen to Win­ston Churchill, from the punishing pleasures of speed chess to the elegance of the perfectly thrown outfield assist.
 
With a special, highly autobiographical in­troduction in which Krauthammer reflects on the events that shaped his career and political philosophy, this indispensible chronicle takes the reader on a fascinating journey through the fashions and follies, the tragedies and triumphs, of the last three decades of American life.

Author One-on-One: Charles Krauthammer and Dana Perino

Dana Perino
Charles Krauthammer

In this Amazon One-to-One, Charles Krauthammer and Dana Perino discuss Dr. Krauthammer’s new book Things That Matter: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes, and Politics. Charles Krauthammer is a Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated columnist, political commentator and physician. Dana Perino is a Former White House Press Secretary who worked with President George W. Bush, contributor and co-host of The Five on FOX News. She is a long-time friend and fan of Charles Krauthammer.

Dana Perino: Your new book covers three decades of your writings, divided into 16 chapters, and grouped into categories of the things that have mattered to you in your life. As you reviewed your body of work, were you surprised by anything that you had written? Did you ever think, “I can’t believe I ever thought that”?

Charles Krauthammer: No real surprises—I find that I agree with myself a lot—except for my enthusiastic review of Independence Day. Though I might've been unduly swayed by seeing the premiere with my son, then ten, who announced after the showing that he would see the movie every week for the rest of his life.

DP: The thing that has mattered most to you is your family. Your book opens with a column that could be called “a two-hankie job.” How hard is it to write about the people that you love, to give people a glimpse into your personal life?

CK: I didn’t become a writer to write about myself. In fact, I don't even like using the word "I" in writing an opinion column, let alone a personal one. The only times I really have written about my own life is when it had a purpose outside myself, such as honoring a person, perhaps a friend or mentor, of extraordinary character.

DP: As a long-time fan of yours, there are some of your columns that I remember reading, and where I was when I read it, and how I said to my husband, “That’s exactly what I was thinking!” Do you know when a column is going to be a hit?

CK: Quite the opposite. I'm always amazed how wrong I am. A column that I think will sink like a stone might catch on like wildfire. Others that I'm proud and smug about as I submit for publication, leave no trace. Which is why I'm a writer, not a publisher. I wasn't made for marketing.

DP: The original essay you penned for Things That Matter is like an award-winning exhibit of your heart and mind. What will readers learn about you that they may not have known?

CK: How improbable my life story is. I still wake up simply amazed how I've ended up where I am, mostly by serendipity and sheer blind luck. I started out as a doctor. I ended as a writer. And that's the least of the stunning twists and turns that have defined my life—which I write about, for the first time, in the introductory essay to Things That Matter.

DP: You have become a must-read and a must-see on television news programs. Parents shush their children when you’re about to speak. On the rare Friday when you don’t have a column or when you’re not on Special Report with Bret Baier, your mom gets calls of “Where is Charles?” Disappointment hangs heavy over your fans. But who are your weekly must-reads?

CK: George Will. David Brooks. Mickey Kaus. And for that happy half of every year—April through October—the (daily) box score of the Washington Nationals.

DP: Do you think that your training as a psychiatrist has given you an advantage when observing people in politics?

CK: Actually, no. Psychiatry has everything to say about mental illness, very little to say about ordinary life. It offers no magical formulas for understanding human behavior beyond what any lay person can see. Although I do like to joke that there's not much difference in what I do today as a political analyst in Washington from what I used to do as a psychiatrist in Boston—in both lines of work, I deal every day with people who suffer from paranoia and delusions of grandeur. The only difference is that the paranoids in Washington have access to nuclear weapons.

DP: You wrote a column on September 12, 2001 that is included in Things That Matter. How difficult was that to write under the time pressure of the day, and to keep your commentary to standard column length?

CK: Like the whole country, I was on fire with fury. I felt I simply had to write. The difficulty was less time pressure than emotional pressure—trying to suppress my feelings so I could be as analytical as possible. Sometimes that kind of writing can be disastrous. I think this one came out right.

DP: Given the mention in your essay, and because I have a gut feeling that we’re on the same page, what is your preferred style on serial commas?

CK: With commas the rule should always be: the fewer the better. They are a scourge, a pestilence upon the land. They must be given no quarter. When you list three things, it should be written: a, b and c. If you see a comma after the "b"—call 911 immediately.

DP: Many readers may not realize that you once were a Democrat? Was it a gradual or a spectacular breakup?

CK: Like most breakups, gradual. Like few breakups, however, without regret.

DP: You have covered politics and government since the Carter administration. Do you believe that America’s politics are too strained, too partisan, and too deranged to make meaningful progress?

CK: Not at all. What we need is not a new politics but a new president.

DP: What do you think will be the things that matter 20–30 years from now?

CK: The things that really matter, as I try to explain in the introductory essay—the cosmic questions of origins and meaning, the great achievements of science and art, the great mysteries of creation and consciousness—shall always be with us. Thirty years from now, 300 years from now. I hope that one contribution of this book will be to provide some illumination on these wondrous mysteries and achievements.

DP: If you had a magic wand and could get the U.S. federal government to do three things, what would be your top priorities?

CK: Abolish the income tax code with its staggeringly intrusive and impenetrable provisions and replace it with a clean consumption tax.

Get out of the race business and return the country to the colorblind vision of Martin Luther King.

Kill the penny.

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All Over the Map: A Cartographic Odyssey

All Over the Map: A Cartographic Odyssey Lowest new price: $31.45
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Author: Betsy Mason

Created for map lovers by map lovers, this rich book explores the intriguing stories behind maps across history and illuminates how the art of cartography thrives today.

In this visually stunning book, award-winning journalists Betsy Mason and Greg Miller--authors of the National Geographic cartography blog "All Over the Map"--explore the intriguing stories behind maps from a wide variety of cultures, civilizations, and time periods. Based on interviews with scores of leading cartographers, curators, historians, and scholars, this is a remarkable selection of fascinating and unusual maps.

This diverse compendium includes ancient maps of dragon-filled seas, elaborate graphics picturing unseen concepts and forces from inside Earth to outer space, devious maps created by spies, and maps from pop culture such as the schematics to the Death Star and a map of Westeros from Game of Thrones. If your brain craves maps--and Mason and Miller would say it does, whether you know it or not--this eye-opening visual feast will inspire and delight.

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Never Home Alone: From Microbes to Millipedes, Camel Crickets, and Honeybees, the Natural History of Where We Live

Never Home Alone: From Microbes to Millipedes, Camel Crickets, and Honeybees, the Natural History of Where We Live Lowest new price: $25.20
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Author: Rob Dunn

A natural history of the wilderness in our homes, from the microbes in our showers to the crickets in our basements

Even when the floors are sparkling clean and the house seems silent, our domestic domain is wild beyond imagination. In Never Home Alone, biologist Rob Dunn introduces us to the nearly 200,000 species living with us in our own homes, from the Egyptian meal moths in our cupboards and camel crickets in our basements to the lactobacillus lounging on our kitchen counters. You are not alone. Yet, as we obsess over sterilizing our homes and separating our spaces from nature, we are unwittingly cultivating an entirely new playground for evolution. These changes are reshaping the organisms that live with us--prompting some to become more dangerous, while undermining those species that benefit our bodies or help us keep more threatening organisms at bay. No one who reads this engrossing, revelatory book will look at their homes in the same way again.

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The Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life

The Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life Lowest new price: $15.10
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Author: David Quammen

Longlisted for the National Book Award for Nonfiction and A New York Times Notable Book of 2018

Nonpareil science writer David Quammen explains how recent discoveries in molecular biology can change our understanding of evolution and life’s history, with powerful implications for human health and even our own human nature.

In the mid-1970s, scientists began using DNA sequences to reexamine the history of all life. Perhaps the most startling discovery to come out of this new field—the study of life’s diversity and relatedness at the molecular level—is horizontal gene transfer (HGT), or the movement of genes across species lines. It turns out that HGT has been widespread and important. For instance, we now know that roughly eight percent of the human genome arrived not through traditional inheritance from directly ancestral forms, but sideways by viral infection—a type of HGT.

In The Tangled Tree David Quammen, “one of that rare breed of science journalists who blends exploration with a talent for synthesis and storytelling” (Nature), chronicles these discoveries through the lives of the researchers who made them—such as Carl Woese, the most important little-known biologist of the twentieth century; Lynn Margulis, the notorious maverick whose wild ideas about “mosaic” creatures proved to be true; and Tsutomu Wantanabe, who discovered that the scourge of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is a direct result of horizontal gene transfer, bringing the deep study of genome histories to bear on a global crisis in public health.

“Quammen is no ordinary writer. He is simply astonishing, one of that rare class of writer gifted with verve, ingenuity, humor, guts, and great heart” (Elle). Now, in The Tangled Tree, he explains how molecular studies of evolution have brought startling recognitions about the tangled tree of life—including where we humans fit upon it. Thanks to new technologies such as CRISPR, we now have the ability to alter even our genetic composition—through sideways insertions, as nature has long been doing. The Tangled Tree is a brilliant guide to our transformed understanding of evolution, of life’s history, and of our own human nature.

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She Has Her Mother's Laugh: The Powers, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity

She Has Her Mother's Laugh: The Powers, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity Lowest new price: $20.08
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Author: Carl Zimmer

Heredity is redefined in this sweeping, resonating overview of a force that shaped human society—a force set to shape our future even more radically.

One of New York Times 100 Notable Books for 2018
One of Publishers Weekly's Top Ten Books of 2018
One of Kirkus's Best Books of 2018 
One of Mental Floss's Best Books of 2018
One of Science Friday's Best Science Books of 2018

“Extraordinary”—New York Times Book Review   
"Magisterial"The Atlantic
"Engrossing"
Wired
"Leading contender as the most outstanding nonfiction work of the year"
Minneapolis Star-Tribune

Award-winning, celebrated New York Times columnist and science writer Carl Zimmer presents a profoundly original perspective on what we pass along from generation to generation. Charles Darwin played a crucial part in turning heredity into a scientific question, and yet he failed spectacularly to answer it. The birth of genetics in the early 1900s seemed to do precisely that. Gradually, people translated their old notions about heredity into a language of genes. As the technology for studying genes became cheaper, millions of people ordered genetic tests to link themselves to missing parents, to distant ancestors, to ethnic identities...

But, Zimmer writes, “Each of us carries an amalgam of fragments of DNA, stitched together from some of our many ancestors. Each piece has its own ancestry, traveling a different path back through human history. A particular fragment may sometimes be cause for worry, but most of our DNA influences who we are—our appearance, our height, our penchants—in inconceivably subtle ways.” Heredity isn’t just about genes that pass from parent to child. Heredity continues within our own bodies, as a single cell gives rise to trillions of cells that make up our bodies. We say we inherit genes from our ancestors—using a word that once referred to kingdoms and estates—but we inherit other things that matter as much or more to our lives, from microbes to technologies we use to make life more comfortable. We need a new definition of what heredity is and, through Carl Zimmer’s lucid exposition and storytelling, this resounding tour de force delivers it. 

Weaving historical and current scientific research, his own experience with his two daughters, and the kind of original reporting expected of one of the world’s best science journalists, Zimmer ultimately unpacks urgent bioethical quandaries arising from new biomedical technologies, but also long-standing presumptions about who we really are and what we can pass on to future generations.

An Amazon Best Book of June 2018: Heredity is a lot more complex than most people think. In She Has Her Mother’s Laugh, New York Times columnist Carl Zimmer dives deep into the ways that we pass along our genetic inheritance. Through history, science, and a boatload of personal curiosity (the book originated from questions he had regarding his own child, and he had his entire genome mapped in the process of writing it), Zimmer seeks to retell the story of heredity in broader and more inclusive terms than the ones we’re used to hearing. For example, who we become is determined by our ancestors’ genes, yes; but it is also a product of our own cells—for one cell can contribute to millions of future cells. How we treat ourselves, what we learn, and even how we feel, eventually contributes to our hereditary future. The forces at work are myriad, mostly unseen, and subject to variables that we barely understand. Zimmer is trying to help us here, to teach us, and in doing so he succeeds in entertaining us as well. --Chris Schluep, Amazon Book Review

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Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst

Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst Lowest new price: $13.28
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Author: Robert M. Sapolsky

The New York Times bestseller

“It’s no exaggeration to say that Behave is one of the best nonfiction books I’ve ever read.” —David P. Barash, The Wall Street Journal

"It has my vote for science book of the year.” Parul Sehgal, The New York Times

"Hands-down one of the best books I’ve read in years. I loved it." —Dina Temple-Raston, The Washington Post

Named a Best Book of the Year by The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal 


From the celebrated neurobiologist and primatologist, a landmark, genre-defining examination of human behavior, both good and bad, and an answer to the question: Why do we do the things we do?

Sapolsky's storytelling concept is delightful but it also has a powerful intrinsic logic: he starts by looking at the factors that bear on a person's reaction in the precise moment a behavior occurs, and then hops back in time from there, in stages, ultimately ending up at the deep history of our species and its evolutionary legacy.
 
And so the first category of explanation is the neurobiological one. A behavior occurs--whether an example of humans at our best, worst, or somewhere in between. What went on in a person's brain a second before the behavior happened? Then Sapolsky pulls out to a slightly larger field of vision, a little earlier in time: What sight, sound, or smell caused the nervous system to produce that behavior? And then, what hormones acted hours to days earlier to change how responsive that individual is to the stimuli that triggered the nervous system? By now he has increased our field of vision so that we are thinking about neurobiology and the sensory world of our environment and endocrinology in trying to explain what happened.

Sapolsky keeps going: How was that behavior influenced by structural changes in the nervous system over the preceding months, by that person's adolescence, childhood, fetal life, and then back to his or her genetic makeup? Finally, he expands the view to encompass factors larger than one individual. How did culture shape that individual's group, what ecological factors millennia old formed that culture? And on and on, back to evolutionary factors millions of years old. 

The result is one of the most dazzling tours d'horizon of the science of human behavior ever attempted, a majestic synthesis that harvests cutting-edge research across a range of disciplines to provide a subtle and nuanced perspective on why we ultimately do the things we do...for good and for ill. Sapolsky builds on this understanding to wrestle with some of our deepest and thorniest questions relating to tribalism and xenophobia, hierarchy and competition, morality and free will, and war and peace. Wise, humane, often very funny, Behave is a towering achievement, powerfully humanizing, and downright heroic in its own right.

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