Thomas's Reviews > Survival of the Sickest: A Medical Maverick Discovers Why We Need Disease

Survival of the Sickest by Sharon Moalem
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Jul 09, 09

bookshelves: audiobook, science, medicine
Recommended for: Hippopotamus Wannabes
Read in July, 2009

A slick production this is. The musical transitions are snappy and the narrator converts what might have been prosaic pitfalls to satisfying conversational tidbits. Yes, the book has sentences like, "Compromises, compromises." Probably, some readers will find the tone condescending. Even worse, some readers will feel they have read everything before. So why did I rate this book so highly?

This is a wonderful book because it ties together disparate facts from the world of modern biology. Books like Why do Men Fall Asleep After Sex ask and answer similar questions, but they lack the cohesive theory behind Survival of the Sickest. Furthermore, almost all readers will find something new, although it may be sketchy. For instance, do you know why humans are hairless? Why Lamarckism is a misleading term? What frogs and Norwegians have in common?

One last comment, since I have no better location for it. The book suggests that high stress and low life expectancy increases the chance that a woman will give birth to a daughter, while great expectations increase the chance of a son. If only King Henry the Eighth had known, he might have adopted another strategy.
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