In this brassy popularization
of evolutionary biology the authors dissect a range of human behavioral
maladies: addiction, obesity, infidelity, avarice, power-tripping and
more. Economist Burnham and biologist Phelan argue that such behaviors
are genetic inheritances from humanity's hunter-gatherer days: whatever
then kept an individual one step ahead of the leopard, we descendants
embody in our genes.
The authors alight
on such a plethora of aspects of being human that their tour is constantly
stimulating, whether discussing people's propensity to overeating or
their relentless optimism about the future even under horrible circumstances.
Burnham and Phelan are continually provocative as well and readers will
discover themselves objecting to one or another of their assertions,
until the authors conversationally trundle up some experiment in support.
Far from raising
the white flag in our battles with instincts, the authors advance tactics
of self-control for our next temptation, be it a sundae, stock tip,
or pretty face. A delightfully readable presentation of the evolutionary,
as distinct from the moralized, appreciation of human nature.