In the debate about the import of genetics versus training in athletic success, this book—nominated for the PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing—argues that both are equally necessary components of athletic achievement, while considering such topics as race, gender, and genetic testing.
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.