Epstein's rigor in seeking answers and insights is as impressive as the air miles he must have accumulated ... Epstein doesn't find the sports gene (nobody has) ... But where others have rejected ambiguity in their search for a definitive answer, Epstein has embraced it in his quest for a much deeper truth. Whatever that is, it is complex and mysterious. Paradoxically, his book is dazzling and illuminating.
...[a] captivating book ... Epstein...[pays] close attention to nuance. He approaches his subject like a scientist, stopping to examine the uncertainties and taking care not to overgeneralize ... he encounters characters and stories so engrossing that readers may not realize they’re receiving an advanced course in genetics, physiology and sports medicine ... it’s disappointing that the book devotes little space to the interplay of doping and genetics. But the omission is easy to forgive in a book that covers so much ground ... Narratives matter, Mr. Epstein argues, and many of the ones we tell are flat wrong. Correcting these false stories won’t be easy.
In his fascinating book The Sports Gene, David Epstein...comes to a compelling if not surprising conclusion: Nature and nurture are both essential ingredients for athletic achievement ... 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. He reviews the best scientific studies ... I have only one complaint: The narrative slows down when the author shows off what he knows about the arcane details of genetic science. In all, however, this is a fine book with a moral message.
By examining how far scientists have come in understanding the impact of genes on athletic performance and what remains undiscovered, Epstein adds another layer to the ongoing debate ... But beyond that, Epstein’s first book offers a different prism for viewing athletic performances or, at least, a welcome departure from now-popular number crunching. In a sports world increasingly worshipful of analytics, The Sports Gene provides a refreshing reminder of the many variables that impact and predict success. By discussing the way athletic physiques have become more specialized, the way genes affect muscle development, and the way some ultrarunners crave activity, Epstein may change how fans view their favorite players and challenge assumptions about athleticism ... even though some sections are filled with technical talk, he makes the science behind the studies easy to digest and accessible to both avid and casual sports fans ... The Sports Gene is most engaging when sections combine science with real-life examples and when anecdotes and athletes move away from popular American professional sports.
...[a] terrific and unblinking new book ... a timely corrective to the talentdenial industry ... Epstein’s book made me revisit my ideas about talent and genes ... Epstein makes a strong case for a more interesting future.
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.
Epstein...presents a fascinating account of the latest discoveries in sports science. His conclusions are uncertain, however ... readers may understandably conclude that Epstein is suggesting one thing while stating another. Nonetheless, he should be commended for the clear and unbiased manner in which he presents his information ... Fuzzy conclusions aside, this book is essential reading for sports fans interested in the science of sports, and for readers (not scholars) interested in the science of human differences.
...a disjointed study ... Epstein comes closest to scoring a home run in his provocative and thoughtful focus on the relationships between gender and race and genetic determination ... While he helpfully leads readers into the dugout of modern genetics and sports science, his overall conclusions challenge few assumptions.