Adam's Curse: A Future without Men

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9780393058963: Adam's Curse: A Future without Men

The inside story of the Y chromosome's fatal flaw, as told by one of the world's leading geneticists.

Male reproductive fragility has been the subject of much highly publicized recent research. Is it possible, asked the New York Times, that men face extinction? Bryan Sykes examines the validity of these shocking reports, focusing on the defining characteristic of men: the Y chromosome in their DNA. Guiding his readers through chapters like "The Blood of Vikings" and "Ribbons of Life," Sykes masterfully blends natural history with scientific fact, elucidating the biology of sexual reproduction, modern genetics, and evolutionary biology. He reveals that, while the Y chromosome makes man's existence possible, it also carries within it the seeds of his destruction. Timely and fascinating, this major work covers a wealth of controversial topics, including whether there is a genetic cause for male greed, aggression, and promiscuity; the possible existence of a male homosexual gene; and what, if anything, can be done to save men from a slow, but certain, extinction.

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Review:

Bryan Sykes follows up The Seven Daughters of Eve with the equally challenging and well-written Adam's Curse. This time, instead of following humanity's heritage back to the first women, Sykes looks forward to a possible future without men. The seeds of the book's topics were sown when Sykes met a pre-eminent pharmaceutical company chairman who shared his surname. Using the Y chromosome, which is passed nearly unchanged from father to son, the author found that he shared a distant ancestor with the other Sykes. Along the way, he discovered that the Y chromosome was worth examining more closely. The first third of Adam's Curse is devoted to a clear and comprehensive lesson about genetics, the second narrates several fascinating stories of tracing ancestry via the Y chromosome, and the last chapters explore the history of male humanity and its future. Some readers will eagerly skim until they reach Chapter 21, where Sykes gets to the heart of the matter--why and how the Y chromosome has created a world where men overwhelmingly own the wealth and power, commit the crimes, and fight the wars. He uses the structural puniness of the Y chromosome to demonstrate that men are as unnecessary biologically as they are dominant socially. Sykes' provocative and quite personal book is likely to be unpopular among science readers who prefer their biology divorced from sociology, but his points taken in context will be difficult to refute. --Therese Littleton

About the Author:

Bryan Sykes, professor of human genetics at Oxford University, pioneered the use of DNA in exploring the human past. He is also the founder and chairman of Oxford Ancestors (oxfordancestors.com), which helps individuals explore their genetic roots using DNA. He is the author of Saxons, Vikings, and Celts; The Seven Daughters of Eve, a New York Times bestseller; and Adam’s Curse.

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Sykes, Bryan
Editorial: W. W. Norton & Company
ISBN 10: 0393058964 ISBN 13: 9780393058963
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Bryan Sykes
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