Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Sports Gene, by David Epstein

This book was right up my alley. Vetted science & peer-reviewed data? Check. Jaw-dropping feats of strength, skill, & endurance? Check. Melodramatic scenery chewing? Er....okay, I could have done without some of that. But that's sports, I suppose. Still, with the exception of a few passages, the writing is reasonably good. I appreciate that Epstein opens the book with the tired old question of "OMG nature or nurture????" and then immediately answers it: "Duh, both, *obviously*, and everyone hates that answer. So let's talk about interesting stuff." Over sixteen chapters, Epstein delves into a wide range of issues related to athletic performance and genetics, including the role of practice, sex & hormone differences, "trainability", body type, geography, ancestry, injury & disease, pain tolerance, and will power. (The chapter on breeding champion sled dogs for work ethic instead of speed was particularly interesting.) The upshot: there is no simple answer, but the topic is utterly fascination.

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