Mike Stroud, it would seem to most, is a very remarkable man. A qualified doctor, his fascination and involvement in the study of human performance and endurance fitness have obsessed him rather more than the average fitness fanatic. From crossing Antarctica unaided with Sir Ranulph Fiennes, to participating in countless marathons and triathlons traversing deserts and glaciers, Stroud has become his own human guinea pig, testing the limits of human strength and survival in some of the most extreme and inhospitable environments of our planet.
Yet far from simply the journal of one man's extraordinary fitness, Stroud sets out in Survival of the Fittest to tell us that we are all capable of the physical achievements usually left to realm of world class athletes. We are all able to attain such performance levels, Stroud assures us, because we are evolutionary designed to do just this.
At the heart of the book, Stroud claims that human beings have not altered genetically in the last 10,000 years, so physiologically we are identical to our ancestors. The problem is that we now have a markedly different lifestyle to the hunter-gathering times of our Cro-Magnon forefathers-a lifestyle that simply does not match our evolutionary heritage. This, Stroud believes, is the reason why we are seeing an emergence of modern diseases such as heart disease, obesity and cancer.
Illustrating each chapter with adrenline-inducing accounts of his own expeditions and Adventures--falling through Antarctica ice into minus 40 degree water is just one that springs to mind--Stroud examines the physiological capacities of our bodies to perform and adapt to extreme situations, all the time reminding us that these capabilities are a fundamental part of our evolutionary inheritance.
This is a captivating book, not only a serious comment on the dangers of our modern "civilised" lifestyle, but also a source of remarkable facts on our human design, sure to liven up conversations and office chit- chat (this book certainly gets you talking). Although unlikely to spur you on to organise the next Polar expedition, it will give you the confidence--and quite possibly the inspiration--to become more active and to take up the challenges our genes intend us to do. --Abi Frisby