|Have you ever met a person who left you
could someone be so twisted? So evil?" Prompted by clues in her
sister's diary after her mysterious death, author Barbara Oakley takes
the reader inside the head of the kinds of malevolent people you know,
perhaps all too well, but could never understand.
Starting with psychology as a frame of reference, Oakley uses
cutting-edge images of the working brain to provide startling support
for the idea that "evil" people act the way they do mainly as the
result of a dysfunction. In fact, some deceitful, manipulative, and
even sadistic behavior appears to be programmed genetically --
suggesting that some people really are born to be bad. But there are
unexpected fringe benefits to "evil genes." We may not like them--but
we literally can't live without them.
Oakley deftly ties together the big picture implications of
revolutionary neuroscientific and genetic discoveries, showing the
eerily similar behavioral tics of Mao, Stalin, Hitler, and Slobodan
Milosevic. The dramatic recent scientific findings presented in Evil Genes
shed light not only on dictators far afield, but on politics at home,
as well as business, religion, and everyday life. In fact, history
itself has been shaped by the strange confluence of genes and
environment that science is just now beginning to understand.
Oakley links the latest findings of molecular research to a wide array
of seemingly unrelated historical and current phenomena, from the
harems of the Ottomans and the chummy jokes of "Uncle Joe" Stalin, to
the remarkable memory of investor Warren Buffet. Throughout, she never
loses sight of the personal cost of evil genes as she unravels the
mystery surrounding her sister's enigmatic life--and death.
is a tour-de-force of popular science writing that brilliantly melds
scientific research with intriguing family history and puts both a
human and scientific face to evil. .
Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose,
Enron Failed and My Sister Stole My Mother's Boyfriend
by Barbara Oakley
Reviewed Out There