Living with Our Genes

Dean Hamer, Author, Peter Copeland, Author, Peter Copeland, Joint Author
Dean Hamer, Author, Peter Copeland, Author, Peter Copeland, Joint Author Doubleday Books $24.95 (355p) ISBN 978-0-385-48583-8
Reviewed on: 12/29/1997
Release date: 01/01/1998
In a light, breezy style, Hamer, a biologist at the National Cancer Institute, and Copeland attempt to explain the extent to which our genes control our lives. In their second collaboration (following The Science of Desire), the authors devote chapters to the most compelling of human behaviors and conditions: sex, worry, anger, thrill-seeking, addiction, intelligence, eating and aging. They explore the biochemistry underlying the characteristics in question, and ask how much of that biochemistry is under genetic control. Along the way, a great number of fascinating pieces of information are related--e.g., that some researchers have proposed ""that the brain has a set point for happiness just as the body has a set point for weight,"" and that ""men with the high-anxiety form of the serotonin transporter gene had sex more often than those with the low-anxiety form."" While the authors go to great lengths to remind readers that ""predisposition is not predestination""--that genes may well play a role regarding complex behaviors but not necessarily a determinative one--in some instances, they seem to make claims not fully warranted by available data (e.g., ""men are programmed to seek more partners and sexual novelty.... women want emotional attachment and financial security""), and they provide scant citations to the original literature. Nevertheless, from ""Looking for Gay Genes"" to ""Making Brighter Babies,"" this thought-provoking book's explanations of how our genes ""express"" themselves is sure to capture the imaginations of readers. Author tour. (Mar.)
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