Wednesday, April 4, 2012


New from Oxford University Press: Breeding: The Human History of Heredity, Race, and Sex by John Waller.

About the book, from the publisher:
In Breeding, John Waller offers an intriguing look at human heredity and the often troubling conclusions different societies have drawn about it. The questions heredity provokes are legion. If characteristics are passed from parent to child, does this mean that some families are superior to others? That some races are less than fully human? That individuals can shrug off responsibility for what they do? To answer these questions, the book explores a dizzying array of topics--the Greek and Roman view of sub-human "barbarians"; the suppression of peasants in medieval Europe, and of slaves in the American plantations; ideas of class, criminality, "moral weakness," and IQ; pedigree; "bloodlines" in royalty; and much more. At the same time, it is a story of remarkable scientific achievement, as figures from Linnaeus to Mendel, Darwin, Galton, Crick and Watson have unravelled the way life works. From the speculations of the ancient, medieval and early modern worlds to the birth of genetics in the last century, Waller offers a fascinating account of one of the most important ideas in Western thought.