Mick Kelly's Reviews > Tamed: Ten Species That Changed Our World

Tamed by Alice  Roberts
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really liked it

Professor Alice Roberts is a well-known and well-respected academic and broadcaster in the popular science field and this book is a tribute to her skill and knowledge. It’s an easy read that imparts a large amount of information while remaining as near to a page-turner as a popular science book can be.

She traces the history of ten species (dogs, wheat, cattle, maize, potatoes, chickens, rice, horses, apples and humans) over the millennia in which they interacted with human beings (in the widest sense - including Denisovans and Neanderthals).
Each chapter looks at the relevant species in the same way - archaeological, maternal DNA, full DNA and the conclusions that can be drawn from all three. The structure is both a blessing and a curse - it makes it easy to assimilate at the cost of being a little repetitive in feel.

The final chapter on humanity is the highlight of the book for me. Partially narcissism (I am human) but partly the revelation that we have (to some extent) tamed ourselves. The lessons she then draws from the whole sweep of this history are timely and valid - that nature is always evolving, that species are neither pure or distinct, and that pure self-interest should drive us to preserve the genetic diversity of the planet.

More controversially, she examines the subject of genetic modification and CRISPR with a recommendation to use the techniques, so long as we listen to the requirements of the people who might benefit from them - not to the big corporations with their ‘profit at any cost’ approach.

Well worth a read.
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Reading Progress

August 5, 2018 – Started Reading
August 17, 2018 – Shelved
August 17, 2018 – Finished Reading

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