Evolved: Chronicles of a Pleistocene Mind

Maximilian Werner, Author, John Alcock, Foreword by
Maximilian Werner. Torrey House (Consortium, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (228p) ISBN 978-1-937226-17-6
Ebook - 280 pages - 978-1-937226-18-3
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Werner’s goal is as straightforward as it is important: to “use personal narrative and memoir to tell the story of how Darwinian evolution might be used to improve and deepen our understanding of day-to-day life in all its forms.” Unfortunately, the author goes too far in his efforts to glean evolutionary insight from every quotidian event. The take-away is rigid and didactic: human behavior, he seems to say, is fully determined by what our ancestors experienced as we matured as a species. To that end, he examines, for example, how the tendency to sleep on one’s stomach or side might have evolved as a way to better protect ourselves when at our most vulnerable. He backs this idea up by bouncing it off his wife, considering his inability to think of an animal that habitually sleeps on its back, and then trying out sleeping in various positions and springing up as if under attack. It’s an interesting hypothesis, but he fails to address the many people who sleep on their backs. Are they not as evolved as Werner (Black River Dreams)? To his credit, Werner’s prose is compelling and his natural history is thoroughly engaging, and his line of curious inquiry is an admirable attempt to better understand humanity and its changing relationship with the external world. (June)
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