Evil Genes: Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed, and My Sister Stole My Mother’s BoyfriendWhen I first received this book to review, I thought “Oh, great, another one of these pop evolutionary psychology books by some academic with a large mortgage payment” (or words to that effect). But then I read it and my attitude got better.
The theme of this book is as the title says, evil … at several scales, and understanding evil from a neuro-psychological perspective. Here, the genes themselves are actually relatively unimportant except as part of the necessary steps to build a human brain which then, in turn, can sometimes be an evil one. As a member of the military (having served in numerous interesting capacities) and the adoptive mother of two children from Milosevic-torn former Yugoslavia, Oakley brings an interesting personal side to the worlds of mind games, Machiavellian behavior, and ultimately, psychopathy. And as David Sloan Wilson mentions in his forward, Oakley serves effectively as this book’s Indiana Jones like guide through the neurophysiology of the brain. Most poignantly, Oakley sees the essence of humanity through her direct and indirect experience with her own sister, who is described as “an amoral woman who died under mysterious circumstances.”
I think if you start to read this book you will have a hard time putting it down. A lot of questions you may have will be addressed. More questions will be raised than answered. … And you may never look at your sister the same way again.