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on 6 January 2003
Many left-handed people (like myself) like to make a point of their "individuality", particularly since in generations past left-handers were (and still are in parts of the world) persecuted for simply using another side of their bodies to achieve everyday tasks. In this ambitious and entertaining book, the entire world of asymmetry (and symmetry) is covered in depth. Assymetries in social science, biology, chemistry, physics and psychology are heartily dissected. From Dr Watson's discovery that not all hearts are placed on the left, to disturbing accounts of loss of language and thought processes when one half of the brain is damaged, this book has it covered. A rather deep review of the left-handedness of amino acids and why genes might make us more "left" than right" are offset by two frivilous and fun chapters about left-handed facts and figures such as Da Vinci's mirror-writing and the left-handedness of Muppets. And lots of diagrams will keep you interested. I had an entertaining two weeks reading this book, and you will too.
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on 15 February 2012
I first read Right Hand, Left Hand several years ago, being left handed myself i thought it may provide me with some insight to it's origins as, to my knowledge i am the only lefty in a long chain of rightys. I didn't necessarily find the answers i was looking for, however, i did learn more than i could ever have predicted about lateralisation in general, including cerebral lateralisation, why we drive on different sides of the road in different parts of the world and many other aspects of left and right. In fact, it was a combination of 'A brief history of time' and McManus' Right Hand, Left Hand that inspired me to leave banking to study to become a Neurologist.
This is the first review i have written, but this book truly deserves it and remains my favorite book of all time.
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on 28 February 2005
I am left-handed (or as I now know partially left-handed) as I suspect most of the readers of this book are. That is a pity as this is an excellent book and is about much more than just handedness, it is about symmetry (and asymmetry).
The author shows a fantastic breadth of knowledge as he covers not only handedness but also a wide range of subjects, including:
- Situs inversus - where the organs are reversed (i.e. a mirror image) but there is no increase in the likelihood of the person being left-handed
- Word associations - where typically 'good' words are associated with right and 'bad' words are associated with left
- Burial conventions - how different societies orientated their dead in different directions
- Symmetry of molecules - L-isomers and D-isomers - and how a different orientation can have a radical effect on the nature of the molecule
- A collection of left-handed myths (and explanations)
- An analysis of which side of the road countries drive on
- And much, much more
This is popular science writing at its very best and the result is one of the best popular science books I have ever read.
Recommended to all (not just left-handers).
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on 9 January 2013
Delivery was quick.
I'd heard a review of this book on the radio and ordered it for a friend. It looked a bit more scientific than I'd expected but have yet to discover what my left handed friend thought of it.

Would only recommend it to reasonably scientific people.
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VINE VOICEon 23 March 2004
I'm a 'lefty', 'southpaw', 'cack-handed' etc. My daughter bought me this for my birthday. It was a very interesting read.
The only downside was that some of the chapters seemed too long, at over 30 pages? There were points when the topic of the chapter seemed exhausted, and was strung out, and on more than one occasion my interest waned, only to perk up on the next page when some new issue was introduced, and off we went again?
What I liked best was the little anecdotes (I drafted this before I read the previous Reviewers thoughts, so he stole my thunder, but I thought I'd leave it in).
Like how it took years for Canada to decide whether to drive on the Left or the Right, with British Columbia & the Maritime Provinces not changing over until after the First World War, and then still over a number years between 1920 and 1924. Similarly how Western & Eastern Austria drove on different sides of the road until 1938.
Lots of fascinating material.
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on 12 October 2016
Professor McManus does a brilliant job of making a fascinating topic - asymmetry - approachable yet in-depth, a nice balance of popular and academic. I found it particularly helpful in my research and would highly recommend it to anyone interested in a variety of topics, including handedness, ideas of symmetry and its meaning and importance, language, and much more.
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on 27 November 2013
A fascinating book on asymmetry and an example of how to write popular science. It's fascinating and readable, but McManus doesn't flinch from the tricky bits.
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on 22 May 2015
The material was presented in an interesting and comprehensible way
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on 29 August 2014
Interesting, a bit technical in parts
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on 22 November 2016
Very good
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