359 words •

Mean Genes

Mean Genes

Why do we want – and do – so many things that are bad for us? We vow to lose those extra five pounds, put money in the bank, and mend neglected relationships, but our attempts often end in failure. Our toughest battles, it seems, are with ourselves. To understand this fundamental aspect of human nature, Terry Burnham and Jay Phelan argue, we need to stop looking to Sigmund Freud – and start looking to Charles Darwin.

Short, sassy, and bold Mean Genes reveals that our struggles for self-improvement are, in fact, battles against our own genes – genes that helped our distant ancestors flourish, but are selfish and out of place in the modern world.

Using this evolutionary lens, Mean Genes brilliantly examines the issues that most affect our lives: body image, money, addiction, violence, and the endless search for friendship, love, and fidelity. But Burnham and Phelan don’t simply describe the connections between genes and behavior. They use this knowledge to offer steps for improving the quality of our lives.

Why do we love fast food? Why is the road to romance so rocky? Must happiness always be elusive? What drives us into debt? An intrepid investigation into the biological nature of temptation and the struggle for control, Mean Genes answers these and other fundamental questions about human behavior, while giving us an edge to lead satisfying lives.

Beer.com says “It’s not some corny self-help book either. It doesn’t preach. In fact, it doesn’t care if you continue to abuse yourself beyond recognition. It just attempts to explain why you bought that car you can’t afford, ate that box of donuts you don’t need and why, lordy lord, you continue to drink that cheap, generic beer when your bladder and liver are begging for an elevated variety.”

Executive Producer: Orli Moscowitz

Original Jacket Illustration: David J. High after a concept by Jay Phelan

Original Jacket Design: High Design, NYC

Author Photographs by Lisa Phelan (Jay) and Martha Stewart (Terry)

©2000 by Terry Burnham and Jay Phelan
(P) 2000 Random House, Inc.

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