Sunday, January 12, 2014

Book Review, "The Paleo Manifesto: Ancient Wisdom For Lifelong Health," by John Durant

"[W]e can do what our ancestors did: take one small step after another until we arrive in a very different place. Risen apes or fallen angels, we walk tall with eyes forward-- one foot firmly planted on the ground of what we are, the other reaching into the future of what we can become." 

~John Durant

Ok, I know I'm a little late to be writing a review of this book; but in my defense, I started reading it during the holidays. I promised you all a review, and a review is what you shall get! Better late than never, I suppose.

As most of you know, we have no shortage of books on the subject of the Paleo diet. We are inundated with new cookbooks and ebooks and how-to books and books from a physiological perspective almost weekly it seems. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love all of these books. They are incredibly beneficial, and I'm a particular fan of any book that explains the physiological benefits of the Paleo diet, as I believe they are the most vital defense we have. However, when I heard that a new book was coming out called The Paleo Manifesto, I was instantly intrigued. The title alone indicated a new perspective, and I was anxious to read it.

This book did not disappoint. John provides an entirely unique perspective on the Paleo lifestyle that I feel is very timely. As the lifestyle slowly gains more exposure in the mainstream media, bits and pieces seem to be slightly distorted (although no publicity is bad publicity), and it is seen as another diet with "do eat/don't eat" food lists and recipes. In a sea of cookbooks and how-to's, The Paleo Manifesto stands out as an inspiring and motivational piece of non-fiction that puts the lifestyle into perspective historically, anthropologically, and philosophically.

Divided into three parts that can essentially be viewed as past, present and future, John breaks down the human diet and lifestyle from an evolutionary standpoint. He does not neglect the science, but it is obviously not the focus. He uses it to defend his views on humanity and our place in the world-- how we got here, what we're doing, and where we are going-- as it relates to our health. Paleo is bigger than "eat this, don't eat that," and that is what John is addressing in this book. He touches on everything you can imagine, from traditional Jewish law to exercise to modern day hunting and ties it all together with the same underlying theme-- we were made to live and function a certain way in this world no matter how our environments and habitats may change, and as he so simply puts it, “Nature is the model.”

I was first exposed to the man that is John Durant via podcast, and I have to say he is magnetizing, and his writing is equally so. He's a natural, and the book is fun and easy to read. You connect to him instantly as the author, and therefore trust him from the beginning. You can tell, not only when you hear him speak, but also through his writing that he is passionate about the Paleo lifestyle. He genuinely believes and lives what he preaches. He is also a practical man, and balance is obviously something he believes in as well. Opponents of the Paleo lifestyle like to use straw-man arguments such as, "We can't all live like cavemen today, so this diet is pointless." John directly counters that argument with this book. He proves that there can be a beautiful marriage between contemporary life, and the Paleo lifestyle. The man knows it’s possible, because as a New York City resident, he lives it everyday. When he says it can be done, he means it, and by the time you finish this book you are convinced.

Now, I try to be as objective as possible when reading books. No piece of literature is perfect, so I must take a short reprise from gushing to be practical. There is only one negative thing I could say, and that is I felt the section on the Jewish law was a bit tedious. The point he was making was important, but I felt like he expounded more than was necessary, and the point could have been made more efficiently. While the information will be interesting for those who haven’t had much exposure to the more practical side of the Jewish laws, I think this portion could have been shortened significantly while still fulfilling it’s intended purpose. It was great information, just more than was necessary for the purpose it was serving and so it was a bit of a struggle to get through after a certain point. However, it was the only lull in the entire book, in my opinion. 

Overall, I highly recommend The Paleo Manifesto to anyone striving to live the Paleo lifestyle, or to anyone who may be curious about what Paleo really means. It is inspiring, enlightening, and motivational. Practical, but passionate. It truly is a manifesto for Paleo living, and should have a place of honor in your Paleo library. I personally cannot wait to see what comes next from John Durant!

For more information, and to order The Paleo Manifesto, check out John's website,


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