7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Interesting study of factors influencing our lives other than our genes - but did not enlighten me about twins as I'd hoped,
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This review is from: Identically Different: Why You Can Change Your Genes (Hardcover)
As a father of twins - very different people but in fact I eventually learned, identical - I had hoped to learn from this book something about 'how come?' In this I was somewhat disappointed. I learned mostly that 'it happens', that we all want to individuate ourselves, that genes aren't king (there's also epigenetics to take account of), and there are some interesting anecdotes about twins, of course.
Looking at the book in its own terms, it's actually rather strong. It comprises a series of chapters asking in each case what impact genes and what impact other factors have on a very wide range of themes in human life, ranging from belief in god, through criminality, fatness, gayness and fidelity. There's a lot of learning here, very accessibly summarised, about a very wide range of science. And it's clear a lot of things can influence our lives - starting with the diet of our ancestors (Dutch famine in 1945 still working its way through the population) and moving onto really unexpected things like the bacteria in our guts - in a chapter about the wider gene landscape that I found the most fascinating in the book. In passing, Spector suggests that some of the theories of scientists or theorists other than Darwin - Lamarck, and even Lysenko - may have understood something about the world after all. Sometimes I did read things that surprised me though - for example on page 70 that it was not until Mozart was aged 21 that he 'produced his finest work - his violin concerto No. 9'!
However, all in all, then, an interesting read - just not the book I was looking for. I hope Spector will one day write a book about twin studies!