*** Shortlisted for William Hill Sports Book of the Year 2013 *** Is Usain Bolt a superhuman one-off? Are sports stars like Paula Radcliffe and Tiger Woods born or made? Could we all be Olympians if we trained hard enough? And is the answer to be found by looking at Alaskan huskies?
In this ground-breaking and entertaining exploration of athletic success, award-winning writer David Epstein gets to the heart of the great nature vs. nurture debate, and explodes myths about why top sportsmen excel.
Along the way Epstein exposes the flaws in the so-called 10,000-hour rule that states that rigorous practice from a young age is the only route to success. He shows why some skills that we imagine are innate are not – like the bullet-fast reactions of a baseball player – and why other characteristics that we assume are entirely voluntary, like an athlete’s will to train, might in fact have important genetic components.
Through on-the ground reports at locations ranging from below the equator to above the Arctic Circle, revealing conversations with leading scientists and Olympic champions, and interviews with athletes who have rare genetic mutations or physical traits, Epstein forces us to rethink the very nature of sport.
Recommend this book
Add your recommendation
Only registered users can recommend books. Please use the buttons below to either create a new account, or sign-in to an existing account.
Provides a powerful and convincing analysis of how genes influence all our lives, especially the careers of elite sportsmen - The Times
A fascinating, thought-provoking look at the leading edge of sports performance, written by a guy who knows the territory. David, besides being a senior writer for Sports Illustrated, was a collegiate runner for Columbia University. More to the point, he’s a terrific researcher and a fine, thoughtful writer -
Full credit to David Epstein, a Sports Illustrated journalist with a serious and deep knowledge of genetics and sports science, for his terrific and unblinking new book, The Sports Gene, a timely corrective to the talent-denial industry - New Statesman
Endlessly fascinating - Daily Mail
Epstein’s book does not try to simplify the argument, but it does provide a welcome corrective to those who have deliberately underplayed the notion that genetic make-up is irrelevant - The Times
David Epstein's illuminating synthesis of the latest research into the nature v nurture debate as applied to sport - Independent
Provoking spirited debate about the merits of the 10,000 hour rule - The Times
An important book on the relative roles of genes and environment—nature and nurture—in the building of a professional athlete ... bound to put the cat among the pigeons - Wall Street Journal
Captivating...fascinating...His answer to the questions “Nature or nurture?” is both. If that sounds like a hedge, it isn’t: instead, it’s a testament to the author’s close attention to nuance. - New York Times
Intelligently, rigorously and politely debunks the '10,000 hours' myth - New Statesman
Perhaps the most fascinating book of the year... Absorbing and full of fascinating detail - Independent
This subtle, enthralling study by the Sports Illustrated writer avoids making excessive claims for genetics - Financial Times
David Epstein's The Sports Gene has a discussion that badly needs to happen at all levels in sport; about the relationships between talent, genetics, practice and success in sport - Scotsman
Respect is due to Epstein…for injecting some objectivity into the debate with his gripping new tome - Cycling Active
The Sports Gene offers a fascinating insight into the topic of nature v nurture…a great read - Athletics Weekly
A welcome corrective to those who have deliberately underplayed the notion that genetic makeup is relevant - Oldie
An illuminating read - Sport
Fascinating - The Times
Well written and contains important research, and has some wonderful anecdotes - The Times
The most intriguing sports books of the year, and possibly the best-researched - Irish Examiner
An enjoyable mixture of easily digestible science, anecdote and argument - Times Literary Supplement
This is a book to counter the 10,000-hour rule popularised by Malcolm Gladwell - Daily Mail
In a book packed with fascinating anecdotes, it’s hard to pick out highlights … If sport is a passion, The Sports Gene is required reading - The Score
Highly entertaining and enlightening - Independent on Sunday
The Sports Gene does not try to simplify the nature vs nurture argument, but it does provide a welcome corrective to those who have underplayed the notion that genetic make-up is relevant - The Times
Epstein explores this territory with canny verve - Evening Standard
Interesting reading - Herald
Dazzling and illuminating - Guardian
Epstein is too respectful of the complexity of his subject matter to leap to any grand conclusions. The book was conceived partially as a rebuttal to glib theorising, and it is all the more fascinating as a result - Irish Times
Captivating… Dazzling and illuminating - Guardian
Epstein is not afraid to follow science in “trekking deep into the bramble patches of sensitive topics like gender and race' - Choice
Captivating… In a particularly fascinating chapter, Epstein investigates an old theory that purports to explain why Jamaica produces so many Olympic sprinters - Scotsman
The Sports Gene is a formidable and absorbing book… A terrific book…a fascinating read…impressive as hell - Sunday Business Post
If you want to stay abreast of the rapid developments in sports science… The Sports Gene is a must - BBC Focus Magazine
David Epstein is an award-winning senior writer for Sports Illustrated, where he covers sports science, medicine, and Olympic sports. His investigative pieces are among Sports Illustrated’s most high-profile stories. An avid runner himself, he earned All-East honours on Columbia University's varsity track squad. This is his first book.