It Takes a Genome

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"How a Clash Between Our Genes and Modern Life Is Making Us Sick."

Freshly downloaded to my Kindle 2. Here's some of the descriptions and endorsements.


Human beings have astonishing genetic vulnerabilities. More than half of us will die from complex diseases that trace directly to those vulnerabilities, and the modern world we’ve created places us at unprecedented risk from them. In It Takes a Genome, Greg Gibson posits a revolutionary new hypothesis: Our genome is out of equilibrium, both with itself and its environment. Simply put, our genes aren’t coping well with modern culture. Our bodies were never designed to subsist on fat and sugary foods [Note: I take that to mean processed foods, not natural fats. -ed]; our immune systems weren’t designed for today’s clean, bland environments; our minds weren’t designed to process hard-edged, artificial electronic inputs from dawn ‘til midnight. And that’s why so many of us suffer from chronic diseases that barely touched our ancestors.

Gibson begins by revealing the stunningly complex ways in which multiple genes cooperate and interact to shape our bodies and influence our behaviors. Then, drawing on the very latest science, he explains the genetic “mismatches” that increasingly lead to cancer, diabetes, inflammatory and infectious diseases, AIDS, depression, and senility. He concludes with a look at the probable genetic variations in human psychology, sharing the evidence that traits like introversion and agreeableness are grounded in equally complex genetic interactions.

It Takes A Genome demolishes yesterday’s stale debates over “nature vs. nurture,” introducing a new view that is far more intriguing, and far closer to the truth.

  • See how broken genes cause cancer – Meet the body’s “genetic repairmen”–and understand what happens when they fail

  • The growing price of the modern lifestyle – Why one-third of all Westerners have obesity, Type 2 diabetes, or other signs of “metabolic syndrome”
  • The Alzheimer’s generation — Why some of us are predisposed to dementia
  • What’s really normal: the deepest lessons of the human genome — The remarkable diversity of physical and emotional “normality”

“A compelling, witty, and reader-friendly explanation of how our genes, fashioned for living in the Stone Age, are not so well-suited to life in the Modern Age.”
— Sean B. Carroll, author of The Making of the Fittest and Remarkable Creatures

“It’s taken thirty years, but we finally have in Greg Gibson’s It Takes a Genome what is truly a biologist’s response to the single-gene focus of Richard Dawkin’s early classic The Selfish Gene. And what a response it is! In Gibson’s world, we see a genome as an integrated whole, making sense only when the constituent parts, the genes, are considered in their full genomic and environmental context. It is an engaging, fascinating, accessible, and ultimately deeply satisfying perspective that will enrich the way we all think about ourselves and how we got to be the way we are.”
— David B. Goldstein, Professor of Molecular Genetics, Duke University

“Gibson has captured the delicate balance between the excitement of the genomic revolution and the frustration that so much is yet to be learned about the genomics of disease. This book is an ideal guide through the complexities of recent environmental change and how this non-genetic process has interacted with human genomic variation to produce today’s landscape of important chronic diseases.”
— Marc Feldman, Professor of Biology, Stanford University

“Gibson deftly synthesizes the new science linking genome variation and human health, debunking entrenched views about the causes and evolution of disease and arguing convincingly for a more comprehensive view. An important book and a great read.”
— David P. Mindell, Dean of Science, California Academy of Sciences

“Geneticist Gibson is a natural teacher. He brings a welcome balance to his descriptions of the roles of genes, the environment, and chance in the major human diseases.”
— Bruce Weir, Chair and Professor of Biostatistics, University of Washington


I can't wait to dig into it. That makes about five books at one time, now.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More


  1. John Campbell on March 6, 2009 at 18:06

    Rats – I was going to go on a book diet this year, but I am already falling off the wagon and you come along with another great suggestion – looking forward to your take on the book.

    How do you like your kindle 2?

    It would be a lock for me to purchase but not available in Canada yet and they don't support PDF's, which seems really dumb – maybe in the 3rd version? – It would also be nice to be waterproof for the beach and tub!

  2. Richard Nikoley on March 6, 2009 at 20:55

    I'm a huge ebook fan, having owned the original Sony 500, then the 505. Though the hardware is top notch — typical of Sony — I hate the lack of Mac software, and even the requirement in general to use an iTunes clone to purchase books and sync with the unit.

    I owned the Kindle 1, now the 2. The ability to use the WAN is great, but they really should incorporate WiFi, and even the ability to download Amazon purchases to computer and then transfer to the Kindle via USB. That would open it up worldwide, provided purchasers are clear that full capacity is unavailable until WAN deal are negotiated internationally.

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