In the Blood: God, Genes and Destiny

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9780002555111: In the Blood: God, Genes and Destiny

This work is about human origins. It draws on all the latest knowledge from anthropology and archaeology, via genetics and evolution, to psychology and medicine. It tackles issues such as hereditary genes in criminal behaviour and homosexuality.

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From the Back Cover:

Genetics is at the heart of modern science – and, some say, of history, philosophy and the law. Genes link the past with the present and contain within themselves the fate of many of those who carry them. Every week there are new and startling discoveries in this, the most wonderful of sciences. And Professor Steve Jones is the best possible guide to the knowledge hidden in our genes. In his thrilling new book, and in the BBC TV series that accompanies it, he asks what really is 'in the blood' – and just what that means.

Blood has always tied families and nations together. The idea that human destiny is inborn and descends from ancestors who died generations ago long predates the rise of science. The Old Testament was the first genetics textbook of all: and the idea of inheritance is so powerful that its study was banned in the Soviet Union for thirty years. Today, genetics has a unique fascination but mystifies many – 'In the Blood' makes things clear. Steve Jones explains why sex and taxes are the same thing, how racism has changed its name and why the debate about 'criminal genes' is the same as that which led to the Reformation. Did you know that, more likely than not, you are a descendant of William the Conqueror? And that the best way to find out how is to ask the Mormons, whose beliefs place them at the centre of the search for human genes. How may the Welsh be related to the people of Papua New Guinea, and, why, because of mutations, should nobody who buys this book marry its author?

'In the Blood' shows how genetics is coming uncomfortably close to the questions asked by philosophy, theology and even politics. It deals with issues of fate, of life and of death. To some, science threatens human autonomy. If everything is in the genes, what is left for free will? If man is but a glorified ape, where is the soul? Indeed, if society is just a mechanism for ensuring that genes are transmitted, what room is there for good and evil?
If anyone is fit to begin to pass judgement on these fundamental questions – each one an ancient problem newly phrased in the language of science – it is Steve Jones, who is that rarest of animals, a scientist who is sceptical about his science. He asks these questions in a novel way and, sometimes, gives the answers.

From the author of 'The Language of the Genes'

"Good science for thinking people."
A. S. BYATT

"Steve Jones is one of the best storytellers around today."
INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY

"Few scientists write well for a general audience, but Steve Jones is exceptional."
OBSERVER

"Urbane, intelligent, informative."
NATURE

"Stimulating, vivid, poetic."
J. G. BALLARD

About the Author:

Professor Steve Jones was born in Wales, educated in Scotland and lives in London. He is Professor of Genetics at the Galton Laboratory at University College London.

His first book, ‘The Language of the Genes’ (1993), won the Rhône-Poulenc Prize for the Best Science Book of the Year. It was based on the Reith Lectures he gave in 1991. He is Co-Editor of the ‘Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Human Evolution’ and joint author of The Open University final year genetics textbook.

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