HOW TO CLONE A MAMMOTH – Review

A LITERCURIOUS BOOK REVIEW

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Title How To Clone A Mammoth
Author Beth Shapiro
Publisher Princeton University Press (April 6, 2015)
Format Hardcover, Kindle, Paperback, Audiobook
Pages 220
Language English
ISBN # 0691157057 (ISBN-13: 978-0691157054)

AUTHOR

Beth Shapiro is literally a genius: at least that is what the administrators of the MacArthur Fellowship, known by some as The Genius Fund, believe. Most of us would be pleased with that alone, but Beth is resplendent with titles, honors, and holds a DPhil from Oxford; the University not the library. She is a Rhodes Scholar and has worked for some of the premier companies and organizations in the world; which includes the Welcome Trust where she became the Director of the Henry Welcome Biomolecules Centre. Her specialty is in Molecular Biology and Evolution

Beth is no Dodo, but she has analyzed its mitochondrial DNA. She is the author of a plethora of scientific publications.

Her Doctoral Thesis citation is: Shapiro, Beth, and A. J. Cooper. Inferring Evolutionary History and Processes Using Ancient DNA (2003). I did try to obtain a copy of her thesis but it is in a closed stack at Oxford’s store house and is currently unavailable except by request.

The Author spoke at TEDx conference in March 2013. I have included a link to the recent TEDx Conference “De-Extinction” for anyone who feels the book might be for right for them but still wants more information. If you visit the site you will hear directly from Beth Shapiro and what she is currently working on when she isn’t writing epic books.

https://reviverestore.org/events/tedxdeextinction/

THE BOOK

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This is the greatest favor you will ever do to your intellect; no small praise.

This book is a distillation of decades of education rolled up in occasional irreverent humor and suffused with hard science. No, not the kind of science you had in grade school where the Biology Master lorded over you because you were more ignorant than he or she. Beth Shapiro doesn’t assume any pre-knowledge of the subject matter yet she infuses you the with facts and her enthusiasm.

I am going to be honest, even if you hated science as a child you will still enjoy this book. You will learn the fundamentals of the science of De-Extinction. The gamut in this text is huge, spanning a myriad of scientific disciplines over decades of study in the field of re-animation of the extinct – the Lazarus of our time.

While this subject is a weighty one, the delivery is not. I would compare it to a fine wine or exquisite champagne. It is full flavored, heavy on the heady stuff, and lingers on long after the taste has disappeared.

I struggle to find a comparison here in terms of the authors style. There have been some who compare Beth Shapiro to a Mary Roach. Whilst I chow down on Mary Roach with her sometimes pithily style, I slowly savor the heady mix of the leading new science of Beth Shapiro. The multitudinal cross over of disciplines that are woven together by Beth creates a masterpiece of scientific literature. Never heard of epigenetics? You will here; and you will come away with an appreciation of the enormity of this vast, complicated, and ethically challenging subject of re-birthing the dead.

Bob the builder says “we can do this,” but Beth asks “should we do this?” Should we? Is it ethical to bring back long dead animals in a world struggling with scarce resources? What about the risks versus the rewards? These are questions that Beth takes head on. In a TEDx conference, she expresses her reluctance in some aspects of the potential issues relating to the cloning of extinct species. The book does not dwell on the negative; its focus is on the how, rather than the why.

Perhaps we should talk about who the book isn’t for. If you suffer from Post Traumatic Study Dysmorphia (PTSd) this book may not rock your world.

I know that most people have no current knowledge of Mammon Telophase, but they will if they give this book some attention. I know there are some who could care less if an elephant has a self repairing hymen – yes that is true! What I hope readers take from this review about How to Clone a Mammoth is this technology will impact your life. Once Artificial Intelligence (AI), Quantum Computing, and De-Extinction technology combine, our world will never be the same; ever. This book is your opportunity to start learning just how much this new science will impact you and yours for all future generations.

This is worse than a “Honey, the kids have found the matches” situation; it’s a “Honey, the kids have found the key to Pandora’s Box and they are about to open it” situation.

I cannot express to you the importance of this work. If you never read another book, you need to read this one; and then read all the associated information. This isn’t a pseudoscience idea; it is absolutely real and time is short. As the apex predator, we have impacted our environment and believe that we have contained it; brought it too heel, so to speak. However, the potential for a ‘monster’ we cannot put back in the box that: outperforms us, outlives us, or outkills us is a genuine possibility.

URL: https://press.princeton.edu/titles/10415.html

Literary Awards: https://www.goodreads.com/award/show/34115-aaas-subaru-sb-f-prize-for-excellence-in-science-books

Also by this Author: Ancient DNA: Methods and Protocols (Shapiro, Beth and Michael Hofreiter) Published (2012)

 

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