A Troublesome Inheritance

by Nicholas Wade

A Troublesome Inheritance CoverI’m very torn with this book.

On the one hand, I felt it was a thoughtful exploration as to how genetics affects different ethnicities and culture. On the other, most of what is discussed at length is merely speculation––luckily, acknowledged by the author. Wade takes the time to explain the historical basis of discussion and research pertaining to race, along with the obvious cans of worms that open up as a result. Of course, this comes as the explanation for the dearth of information surrounding this topic; as any investigation toward differences in races comes attached with potential of ranking humans and making sweeping assumptions based on things that can’t be changed by individuals, a racist accusation usually follows. Thus, despite––according to the author––a clear biological basis for such research, most academics distance themselves from such things, which leaves this area of genetics far behind other areas of study.

So it comes as no surprise that Wade speaks at length in order to defend himself from potential racist accusations. It really is a bit of a shame; while I can’t blame the author for such precautions (especially after quickly glancing at other reviews), the book improved immensely when Wade was able to move beyond such discussion and get to the juicy bits of his theories. It’s a shame that the inconvenient politics associated with the topic are not able to be separated from the science. I hope that this book is a step in the right direction, but I’m afraid the reception proves this to be untrue, or at least only a negligible step.

I found A Troublesome Inheritance quite enjoyable while I read. If anyone can manage to read about genetics as it may have affected the success and failure of different civilizations––inasmuch as affecting behaviour, IQ, and the relationship with humans on career paths and institutions developed in various areas of the world––without dwelling on misplaced cries of racism, they may enjoy it just as much. I believe that, in finishing Wade’s book, I have cemented my interest topics such as this.