Reviews



“The narrative follows Mr. Epstein’s search for the roots of elite sport performance as he encounters characters and stories so engrossing that readers may not realize they’re receiving an advanced course in genetics, physiology and sports medicine.”

“I can’t remember a book that has fascinated, educated–and provoked–me as much as The Sports Gene. Epstein has changed forever the way we measure elite athletes and their achievements.”

“Epstein’s rigour in seeking answers and insights is as impressive as the air miles he must have accumulated. From Jamaica to the Arctic, the Rift Valley in Kenya to Våxnäshallen in Sweden, he meets athletes, coaches and scientists, asking questions about the human body – apart from when he travels to Fairbanks to meet some Alaskan huskies.”

“David Epstein’s new book, The Sports Gene, published this week, is the book I’ve been waiting for since the early 1960s. I can’t imagine that anyone interested in sports–particularly the fascinating question, “How do the best athletes become the best?”– will be any less enthralled than I.”

“In his quest to understand what marks some athletes for greatness, Epstein tags along with scientists studying Jamaican sprinters and Kenyan marathoners, ventures to Alaska to understand the unique psychology of champion sled dogs, and sifts through vast data sets from youth soccer academies and National Football League combines. The pages are packed with fascinating science – not just passing references to studies, but thorough explanations that don’t try to hide the inevitable uncertainties and ambiguities.”

“Epstein weaves a thicket of studies and double-blind tests into anecdotes like Superbaby’s.”

“Many researchers and writers are reluctant to tackle genetic issues because they fear the quicksand of racial and ethnic stereotyping. To his credit, Epstein does not flinch.”

“Epstein looks at psychologist Anders Ericsson’s ‘10,000-hour’ study on how practice can masquerade as innate talent; gender testing and chromosomal anomalies; the heritability of height; and more….a rollicking ride through the latest science.”

The Sports Gene is bound to put the cat among the pigeons in the blank-slate crowd who think that we can all be equal as long as we equalize environmental inputs such as practice.”

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“In his fantastic new book, The Sports Gene, Epstein broaches a wide range of topics in a way that is at once fiercely literate, and intensely sympathetic.”

“It’s certainly a must-read for all coaches and hard-core running fans out there. I think average sports fans would enjoy it as a well. If I was still coaching in college, I think it would change the way I actually coached and possibly recruited.”

“Some controversial topics that Epstein tackles are pachyderms other writers might tiptoe uncomfortably around. He examines the roles of race and gender in athletic performance, presenting a wealth of evidence for each theory about why some people become sports stars while others never get out of the beer leagues.”

“It does an excellent job covering the scientific basis of athletic performance and amplifies the research with an impressive collection of narrative examples and interviews…Should you read this book? I recommend this book generally to sports fans, but more importantly this book should also be read by people who are broadly interested in how an individual’s biology interacts with their behavior (training), their environment, and their culture.”

“Epstein is well equipped to explain the complexities of the “sports gene” search. Time and time again, his deeply researched and nuanced investigations of the genetics underlying the athleticism of different races, genders and individuals reinforce a comforting, commonsense conclusion: excelling at sports isn’t just a matter of natural talent or nurtured practice—it’s both.”

“Through Epstein’s easily accessible presentation, supported by comprehensive and copious notes, The Sports Gene provides a wonderful background to a future in which emerging technologies will bring the nature-versus-nurture debate into even sharper focus.”

“Few will put down this deliciously contrarian exploration of great athletic feats.”

“A terrific review of the science of elite athletic performance….Epstein frames the book around a simple, but fascinating question: are there genes for speed, endurance and other athletic traits?”