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Pandora's Seed

The Unforeseen Cost of Civilization

This book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device, and with iTunes on your computer. Books can be read with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


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.

From Publishers Weekly

Apr 05, 2010 – More food but also disease, craziness, and anomie resulted from the agricultural revolution, according to this diffuse meditation on progress and its discontents. Wells (The Journey of Man), a geneticist, anthropologist, and National Geographic Society explorer-in-residence, voices misgivings about the breakthrough to farming 10,000 years ago, spurred by climate change. The food supply was more stable, but caused populations to explode; epidemics flourished because of overcrowding and proximity to farm animals; despotic governments emerged to organize agricultural production; and warfare erupted over farming settlements. Then came urbanism and modernity, which clashed even more intensely with our nomadic hunter-gatherer nature. Nowadays, Wells contends, we are both stultified and overstimulated, cut off from the land and alienated from one other, resulting in mental illness and violent fundamentalism. Wells gives readers an engaging rundown of the science that reconstructs the prehistoric past, but he loses focus in trying to connect that past to every contemporary issue from obesity to global warming, and his solution is unconvincingly simple: “Want less.” B&w photos.

Customer Reviews

How Paleo Influences Neolithic

Pandora's Seed in a great read that helps tie the relevance between our paleolithic hunter-gatherer pasts with the Neolithic present day. It shows how the conscience decision to plant seeds and raise domesticated animals lead to an inevitable investment to a grounded location (unlike hunter-gatherers) that lead to surpluses of food and property that lead to governments and religion that lead to wars, and the rest is history. The line is something like the Agricultural Revolution on one end and the Industrial Revolution and modern day on the other.

The book does an excellent job of putting all the puzzle pieces together connecting the dots of our ancient ancestors to today giving us a more complete look at why we are facing the crises we are facing such as global climate change, a crumbling economy, and even touching areas like psychology and human health.

It tends to keep itself fairly general touching many different subjects but always illustrating their connections. This book has a good amount of breadth, and as expected, not too much depth in any one area. I enjoyed it a lot.

Not bad

Pandora's Seed is not a bad book, but it is not what I expected. I agree with what Dr. Wells had to say about our present society. It just seemed a bit of a stretch to blame all of the world's problems on Neolithic agriculture.

Pandora's Seed
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  • $11.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Life Sciences
  • Published: Jun 08, 2010
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 256 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings