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Mutanten. Over de (mis)vorming van het menselijk lichaam
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Mutanten. Over de (mis)vorming van het menselijk lichaam

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  3,260 ratings  ·  232 reviews
Waarom worden de meesten van ons geboren met één neus, twee benen, tien vingers en vierentwintig ribben - en sommigen niet? Waarom houden de meesten van ons in onze tienertijd op met groeien - terwijl anderen daar gewoon mee doorgaan? Waarom hebben sommigen van ons rood haar - en anderen helemaal geen haar? Men zegt dat het menselijk genoom ons maakt tot wat wij zijn. Maar ...more
Paperback, 415 pages
Published 2005 by Uitgeverij Contact, Amsterdam/Antwerpen (first published 2003)
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4.05  · 
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 ·  3,260 ratings  ·  232 reviews

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Etta Mo
Oct 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i've now read this book twice and all i can say is that leroi has a rare skill; he is able to present dense scientific facts in a way that borders on poetic. his fascination with genetics is apparent in the loving detail with which he writes. i particularly loved the way he started each section with a tale from the annals of history, giving a very personal voice to each of the "disorders" he describes.

It took a little while to get into this book. What I thought would be the most interesting mutations - like conjoined twins - were actually the least, which is perhaps why the author chose to put that chapter first. Honestly, the most compelling studies were of things that are not as obvious mutations, like size, skin color or aging. The scientific jargon can get a little intense at times, but it eases up as the book continues, and is worth slogging through. The author treats the subject manner ...more
Jul 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
All my life, I have groaned inside (and sometimes outside) whenever someone spoke about the "miracle" of giving birth. How miraculous is it, I would ask cynically (and overly confident of my cleverness), if flies and jellyfish do it? In fact, it's only one of the most basic functions living organisms perform, along with eating and pooping. After reading this book, however, and learning about so many things that can happen during gestation that will render the fetus unviable, I am truly amazed, f ...more
Trigger warnings!

There are some things in here that aren't in your average book on genetics, so I'm going to make a little list of things to watch out for if you read this. If I've missed anything, let me know and I'll add it. The book as a whole is not offensive at all, see my note after the list.

- fetal development and ways it can go wrong... This is discussed AT LENGTH, and it's not a bad thing, but I could imagine this being a TERRIBLE read if you're pregnant or have been lately.

- discussio
Oct 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Near the end of this book the author pulls out the quote per molto variare la natur e bella--Nature's beauty is its variety--and it could be a motto for the book itself. Given that most of the book is about the human body developing dramatic abnormalities, usually during development, beauty is an odd word. I found some accounts difficult to read. But the ability for human biology to survive and sometimes prosper in so many different forms was just amazinga.

The book is a discussion of various con
If you are interested in biology in general, and genetics in particular, this is a must read. The science is explained with just enough detail to make it accessable to the average reader with a modest scietific background.

The premis of the book is that we are all mutants, to one degree or another. The relatively small percentage of genetic mutations that cause catastrophic deformities are the focus of the early part of the book. At all times, the author treats those who have genetic mutations a
May 22, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, science
4.5. Extremely interesting look at mankind, what is "normal", and what is not. Chapters include: embryos, limbs, skeletons, growth, gender, skin and even aging (e,g,, mutations resulting in accelerated aging; query whether issues related to/resulting from aging are in fact the result of mutations not breed out of us by natural selection due to them, by definition, only becoming issues after people have typically already had children). Even the epilogue, focusing on "racial" variances and beauty, ...more
Jul 31, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a beautifully written book that examines western societies' understanding of genetic mutation, balancing historical interpretation through a lens of faith with modern science that was interesting enough to make me angry when I got interrupted while reading. Honestly, this book is so much better than my review would have you believe.
Dec 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Life is beautiful, but the process of creating life involves variation and some of those variations have horrified and fascinated people through history. This book alternates historical with contemporary understanding of mutants, to powerful effect. A book purely of ancient misconceptions (heh) of science gets dull quickly. A book purely of how we understand biology to work also gets dull quickly. The author's explanation of historical understanding, and the elegant science writing makes this bo ...more
Audacia Ray
I'm not a dumb lady. But science hasn't really ever been my thing (which is why it's funny that I teach my human sexuality course in a biology department). I've been wanting to read more science stuff but also a little apprehensive about it, so a book about genetic mutations with a cover as awesome as this one was just what I needed. There were pieces of the book that lost me a little bit in their attention to scientific detail, but overall the writing was sharp and often funny, as well as thoro ...more
Mar 27, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, non-fiction
The subject of this book cannot help but be interesting, and it has enough real science to actually feel as though you're going in depth into the topic of genetic anomalies.

At a certain point, though, the voice slipped from that of a narrator leading the reader through interesting historical individuals and their accompanying genetics differences--such as conjoined twins and gigantism--into something more akin to a curious scientist dabbling in anthropology. By the end he's wondering whether, d
Oct 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Every once in a while I come across a science book by accident that are absolutely incredible. This is one such book. I teach physiology and pathophysiology at a university in Utah, but I always am looking for good books on genetics. I liked the way the author approached this from a different and less straight-forward point. In using people with differences such as children with one eye that we call 'cyclops' and explaining how things go wrong in the genes, Leroi provides an excellent illustrati ...more
Anita Dalton
I am decidedly a liberal arts kind of woman. I managed to cram enough science into my head to make it (barely) through college and then promptly forgot all of it. Much science seems like magic to me, a sentiment that makes me sound really dumb, but I’m okay with that (though I do need to mention that I understand how magnets work). So it was a little bit of a shock when I realized this was not a book about carny folk and old side-show acts that featured “freaks.” I was intimidated by the book an ...more
May 22, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This has to be one of the most boring books I've read in a long time.
I'm fascinated by mutations, evolution, DNA etc, and even spent last semester cutting and making recombinant DNA, but this book just bored me to tears.

For people just looking for a 'freakshow' or whatever, look elsewhere, this book is not full of pictures, and isn't geared towards that type of crowd anyways, it's geared towards people (like myself) who are fascinated with how DNA works, and how errors in DNA can happen through
Mar 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a beautifully written elucidation on the effects of variations in the development of the human body. It is by turns technical, philosophical, moving and terrifying, given that the small variations in proteins, cells and enzymes driven by genetic variation can have such startling effects.

I came away from this book with a renewed awe about the complexity of life and the incredible details and hazards of an individual human being built successfully in the womb: the amazing thing for me is n
Jan 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, non-fiction
This was a fantastic book about the neverending variations in human genetics. Although the subject matter could have come across as prurient or voyeuristic in another author's hands, Leroi treats each case with dignity and class. The actual "mutants" are not the focus of this book - instead, it is an in-depth examination of the scientific basis of each mutation and the variability that makes us all human. Highly recommended for both scientists and science book I've read since A Sho ...more
Sep 18, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating book (very science heavy) that examines things that go wrong with the human genome, often with the intent of learning how normal development occurs. Leroi discusses a huge range of genetic abnormalities in a very humane way while also providing fascinating historical accounts, at times both uplifting and depressing. Illustrations and pictures throughout were both illuminating and heartbreaking, but always serve to illustrate his material. Considering the astronomical number of ways t ...more
Joan Concilio
There is a lot of truly fascinating information here about embryology and genetics, and some of the examples of the "mutants " of the past are exceptionally well done. I was expecting more story and less scientific paper, which is why I'm only rating it three stars, for being a bit dense to read in some parts. (I rate myself no slouch in the science department, so if I say it's dense, I really mean it.) But I have to be clear that it's a great piece of work on this topic and well worth the effor ...more
J.F. Penn
Jun 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Fascinating deep dive into the genetics and environmental impacts on the human body and mind. Definitely a little too technically scientific for a non biologist as myself and I did skip over some parts, but the mutations were so interesting, I persisted. Don't read if you're pregnant or wanting to be, I think this would give some people nightmares. It does me feel that life is a miracle though, when so much can go wrong in the creation of it.
Sharon Ryan
Aug 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I bought this book because of my interest in the old sideshow/freakshow culture and wanted to learn more about the how and why these things happen. I feel it promotes critical thinking, and now especially with wild propaganda photos running rampant on the internet and social media, and increases one's ability to distinguish between fact and undocumented, un-researched, "shocking" propaganda posts.
Dec 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-for-class
This is a great book for someone with a little bit of background in genetics, or possibly none at all. Leroi is fabulous at describing the biological processes that result in a variety of mutations. I took issue with the chapter on sex and gender, which treats those with mutations related to sex and gender as freaks to be pitied, while the rest of the book is much more respectful of genetic variation.
Jun 02, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This broke my bum streak with woefully simplistic and anecdotal popular science books. Where other writers might be content to just drop a string of funny stories about weird scientists and odd conditions, Leroi also takes the trouble to explain the underlying science.
Sep 11, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
A very interesting look at mutations and genetics. Lots of cool anecdotes throughout the book which adds greatly to the understanding of the various mutations that are discussed. The topics are discussed in a manner which is respectful while still being intriguing and insightful.
Oct 22, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I pretty much read this for the grotesque factor. Had some decent history and genetic information but I was trying to get to the gross stuff and skimmed over it.
Mar 18, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
This sounds right up my alley.

- - - - -

This was amazing - review coming, once I've gotten some sleep.
Sep 03, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Maybe I'm just getting old, but mutants just don't interest me the way they used to do.
Jul 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved this book. It was impressive, eye opening, had great perspective and clear writing. I really couldn't ask for more. This book inspired me to study developmental Biology.
Beth Barnett
May 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating. I just wish there were more illustrations or pictures. It made me want to go back to visit the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia.
Aug 09, 2012 marked it as stopped-reading  ·  review of another edition
This is the kind of book I think I want to read but actually read two chapters of and never finish.
Best for: People with a strong science background but who maybe stopped studying it after high school or early college, so still get most of the basics but want some more specifics.

In a nutshell: Exploration of the causes of different genetic mutations in humans.

Line that sticks with me: N/A

Why I chose it: I was in a science and technology bookstore and the topic caught my interest.

Review: What causes our genes to act up? Why are some twins conjoined? Why do some people grow to be three feet tal
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“We are all mutants. But some of us are more mutant than others.” 4 likes
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