Why the Hunter-Gatherer Holds the Key to Our Survival
By Spencer Wells
(Random House Trade Paperbacks, Paperback, 9780812971910, 256pp.)
Publication Date: September 13, 2011
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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Ten thousand years ago, our species made a radical shift in its way of life: We became farmers rather than hunter-gatherers. Although this decision propelled us into the modern world, renowned geneticist and anthropologist Spencer Wells demonstrates that such a dramatic change in lifestyle had a downside that we’re only now beginning to recognize. Growing grain crops ultimately made humans more sedentary and unhealthy and made the planet more crowded. The expanding population and the need to apportion limited resources created hierarchies and inequalities. Freedom of movement was replaced by a pressure to work that is the forebear of the anxiety millions feel today. Spencer Wells offers a hopeful prescription for altering a life to which we were always ill-suited. Pandora’s Seed is an eye-opening book for anyone fascinated by the past and concerned about the future.
Spencer Wells is an Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society and Frank H. T. Rhodes Class of ’56 Professor at Cornell University. He leads the Genographic Project, which is collecting and analyzing hundreds of thousands of DNA samples from people around the world in order to decipher how our ancestors populated the planet. Wells received his Ph.D. from Harvard University and conducted postdoctoral work at Stanford and Oxford. He has written two books, The Journey of Man and Deep Ancestry. He lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife, a documentary filmmaker.
“Spencer Wells takes us on an exciting tour of the last ten thousand years of our history in order to forewarn us of what we shall have to deal with in the next fifty years.”—Jared Diamond, professor of geography at UCLA and Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Guns, Germs, and Steel
“An important book for our times . . . If Spencer Wells continues producing books like this, he has the potential to become a pop anthropology guru like Margaret Mead, whose work engendered much good. The world needs to know not only how to want less, but also about how to want the things that will take us into the next ten millennia.”—New York Journal of Books
“Civilisation is the problem, not the solution. . . . Wells combines a cogent account of human evolution with an urgent call for global cultural reform.”—The Times (London)
“The seed from Pandora’s box is spread far and wide in this stimulating and enjoyable book.”—Financial Times
“Wells’s writing combines a deep knowledge of the history of human evolution with a most engaging and lively manner of making that story come alive.”—Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University and author of Tradition and the Black Atlantic
“Well written . . . full of detail and fascinating anecdotes.”—New Scientist