Regular price: $22.04

Free with 30-day trial
Membership details Membership details
  • A 30-day trial plus your first audiobook, free
  • 1 credit/month after trial – good for any book, any price
  • Easy exchanges – swap any book you don’t love
  • Keep your audiobooks, even if you cancel
  • After your trial, Audible is just $14.95/month
OR
In Cart

Publisher's Summary

"In high school, I wondered whether the Jamaican Americans who made our track team so successful might carry some special speed gene from their tiny island. In college, I ran against Kenyans, and wondered whether endurance genes might have traveled with them from East Africa. At the same time, I began to notice that a training group on my team could consist of five men who run next to one another, stride for stride, day after day, and nonetheless turn out five entirely different runners. How could this be?"

We all knew a star athlete in high school. The one who made it look so easy. He was the starting quarterback and shortstop; she was the all-state point guard and high-jumper. Naturals. Or were they? The debate is as old as physical competition. Are stars like Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, and Serena Williams genetic freaks put on Earth to dominate their respective sports? Or are they simply normal people who overcame their biological limits through sheer force of will and obsessive training?

The truth is far messier than a simple dichotomy between nature and nurture. In the decade since the sequencing of the human genome, researchers have slowly begun to uncover how the relationship between biological endowments and a competitor’s training environment affects athleticism. Sports scientists have gradually entered the era of modern genetic research. In this controversial and engaging exploration of athletic success, Sports Illustrated senior writer David Epstein tackles the great nature vs. nurture debate and traces how far science has come in solving this great riddle.

©2013 David Epstein (P)2013 Gildan Media LLC

Critic Reviews

"Step by surprising step, David Epstein takes our hand, grips our mind, and leads us deeper and deeper into the fascinating jungle of sports and genetics... until we finally begin to see the miracle we've been watching in our stadiums and on our TV screens all our lives.” (Gary Smith, Sports Illustrated writer and four-time National Magazine Award winner)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    633
  • 4 Stars
    366
  • 3 Stars
    101
  • 2 Stars
    27
  • 1 Stars
    6

Performance

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    480
  • 4 Stars
    341
  • 3 Stars
    118
  • 2 Stars
    38
  • 1 Stars
    16

Story

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    577
  • 4 Stars
    301
  • 3 Stars
    89
  • 2 Stars
    22
  • 1 Stars
    2
Sort by:
  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Fascinating book for a geriatrician to read

I found this book extremely interesting and thorough. As a practicing physician/geriatrician I frequently see the impact genetics has on longevity and other characteristics in my patients. I enjoyed reading about how much the science of genetics has evolved.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Troy
  • Canada
  • 03-28-17

2 thumbs up from "not a sports fan"

I've always been active, playing sports growing up and now train a bit to keep my health in check, but I've never been one to "watch the game" on tv or look for the sports section of a newspaper. Regardless, this book was a fascinating trip from start to finish, due mostly to the fantastic storytelling, but also because of my love for science and the discoveries that it leads us to. This book was great and I highly recommend it to anyone, not just the sports fanatics, but also those who just love a great story and who can handle an enquisical look in the mirror, at us, the human race, at our deepest level.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

If lawyers shouldn't be their own clients, then authors shouldn't be their own narrators

Let's get the obvious over with first: the narration was painful. The accents were particularly bad and completely unnecessary. Going beyond that, the information was insightful, well presented and thoroughly researched, although not earth-shattering. Nice book for anyone who wants to delve into the age-old nature vs. nurture discussion.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

An amazing book.

An amazing book for all levels of athletes and coaches. I don't have a scientific background so sometimes got caught/lost trying to understand some of the in-depth studies. My suggestion is read it once cover to cover and then go back to the chapters that really caught your attention. For me it was the chapter on trainability. Enjoy. Trevor - HS middle distance T&F coach, Webster NY.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Great book but did not like the reader

The performer insisted on using the accents of those quotes in the text. Horrible choice and totally unnecessary. Detracted from the information presented.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

DNA matters! It matters in sports. It matters in many other aspects of human endeavor.

Cheers to Mr. Epstein. Having the courage to tackle such a taboo subject.

Natural selection is not dead. Evolutionary biology continues to surprise us.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Overall pretty boring

When I saw the title I was interested so I got it but it reads like a science research paper and it doesn't end (over ten hours). There were some interesting studies and people showcased but some of the conclusions he comes to are simply not knowable at this point in science. He ends up basically saying that it's 50/50 nature vs nurture.

I had a hard time finishing it but maybe others will enjoy it.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Well-narrated insight into elite athletic performance

The Sports Gene is a thorough and comprehensive analysis of different factors affecting elite athletic performance.

I read this after reading Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers, and found it to be an interesting extension of some of the physical outlier explanations offered in previous works.

I would recommend this book if you read Outliers or similar books, and your interest is particularly in analyzing physical gifts in terms of a nature vs. nurture discussion.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Must-read even for non-sports fans

What did you love best about The Sports Gene?

Epstein brings a nuanced and fact-based approach to a subject that in other hands is too often marred by bias. Yet the book is well-written and engaging, with lots of human stories to give life to the science.

What does David Epstein bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Epstein is clearly personally very interested in the content and that comes across in his narration, even though it's not as technically polished as professional narration. I can't help but become as fascinated as he is.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

One chapter discusses the role of genetically-influenced motivation on athletic performance. This "nature via nurture" concept, once understood, changed how I think about the role of human genetics, not just in athletics, but in all aspects of the human experience.

Any additional comments?

This is the best popular genetics audiobook I've listened to (alongside The Selfish Gene), and if you have any interest in genetics, you will enjoy it even if you don't care about sports. Genetics may well be the defining field of the next half-century, as computing has been for the previous half-century, and The Sports Gene is an enjoyable way to get more familiar with it.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Very interesting

Great stories of exceptional athletes. Pretty in depth on science but still good. Enjoyed this book.