What Reviewers Are Writing About Taboo

TabooThe book that everyone believes but no one dare quote."
-Wall Street Journal

"Well-researched, thorough and lucidly written."
-Scientific American

"This is an important book for biological anthropologists."
-American Journal of Physical Anthropology

"This book is a MUST READ for anyone who is interested in the topic of genetics and sport."
-International Council of Sports Science and Physical Education

"Taboo is an incredibly well-researched book, and maybe Jon Entine has helped break down the taboo of his title."
- Frank Deford

"A careful and reasoned case."
-New York Times Book Review

"Balanced, well-reasoned, and above all-calm examination of the issue."
-Sports Illustrated

"An informed exploration of a fascinating phenomenon."
-Washington Post

"Compelling, bold, comprehensive, informative, enlightening."
-Journal of the African American Male

"Taboo is an excellent survey of a controversial topic."
-Human Biology Association president Michael Crawford

"A thoughtful, thorough and sensitive treatment of this emotional issue."

"Entine has compiled abundant evidence to support this politically incorrect belief, and it is more than convincing."
-The Black World Today

"Utterly persuasive."

"Consistently interesting, readable, provocative."
-Robert Lipsyte, New York Times

African Americans

"Taboo is an informed exploration of a fascinating phenomenon. Because it bravely tackles the exhaustive list of ideas that must be considered in any open-minded discussion of this topic, Taboo could well be the most intellectually demanding sports book ever written."
-Washington Post, Paul Ruffins, former editor of NAACP's Crisis magazine

"At long last, someone has the guts to tell it like it is. ... In addition to being an analysis of performance research, Taboo is a powerful history of African-Americans in sports itself. The reader is taken on a logical journey from the highlands of Kenya to the sandlots of Southern California to the Olympic Games in Atlanta. ... Thanks to Entine, the genie is out the bottle, and the debate about race and athleticism will never be the same."
-St. Petersburg Times editorial writer Bill Maxwell

"Bigots will hate [Entine's] conclusion, because it acknowledges the African-American superiority in the sports world. Many African Americans will argue against it, mostly out of fear of white backlash. Written in a breezy and informal style, yet thoroughly researched and properly footnoted, Taboo is both provocative and informed. Entine has provided a well-intentioned effort for all to come clean on the possibility that black people might just be superior physically, and that there is no negative connection between that physical superiority and their IQs."
-Seattle Times, John C. Walter, University of Washington, and director of the Blacks in Sports Project

"Taboo offers a thoughtful, thorough and sensitive treatment of this emotional issue. ... Entine looks beyond the obvious-the phenomenal success of Kenya's distance runner, the all-African-American line-ups in the 100-meter finals-to the historical, sociological and environmental factors that could lead one group to dominate in an athletic event. He understands the reasons Blacks lash out against the determination theory, knows that whatever White America gives to Black athletes in terms of athletic superiority, it takes from their mental abilities.

"Taboo is a good read for anyone interested in the history of Black athletes in the United States and worldwide. Whether you agree with Entine or not, Taboo illustrates that some controversies are too complex to be stated in terms of Black and White."
-Emerge magazine, Carolyn White

"Entine, like Arthur Ashe, believes that Afro-Americans will dominate sports even if they spend the majority of their waking hours concentrating on scholarly pursuits. ... This is because they both believe that athletes of African decent enjoy a natural advantage over athletes from other racial backgrounds in most of the major sports. Entine has compiled abundant evidence to support this politically incorrect belief, and it is more than convincing."
-Playthell Benjamin, The Black World Today

"You will be accused of spouting old fashion racism for even raising the issue of African American superiority in athletics. All this beating around the bush has to stop. This is a good book. I am quite excited with the arguments that are raised."
-Earl Smith, Wake Forest University, chairman, department of sociology and ethnic studies, president of the North American Society of Sports Sociologists, African-American scholar and author of The Sporting World of African-American Athletes: From Jackie Roosevelt Robinson to Eldrick "Tiger" Woods

"These are the words I would use to describe the book: compelling, bold, comprehensive, informative, enlightening, controversial, impressive compilation of information and facts. Your work confirmed some of my own beliefs about race science."
-Gary Sailes, Indiana University professor of kinesiology, editor of the Journal of the African American Male

"This book will make a major contribution to the literature on race and sport - from ignorance, fear, bias and stereotypes to scientific study. This book is well-balanced because it provides arguments from several sides and uses a variety of sources. And it has an impressive bibliography for those who want to become engaged in more in-depth research. Given the political and controversial nature of this book it is indeed brave, compelling and comprehensive. This book will become a must-read for those who are truly interested in the scholarly analysis and discussion of race and sport."
-Richard Majors, University of Manchester (UK) sociologist and fellow, author of Cool Pose: The Dilemmas of Black Manhood in America

"Taboo is a necessary addition to the research on sport and race. It is a controversial piece that should stimulate the waters in this critical area of sport and race relations. It will be a book that I will use for graduate and undergraduate courses in the sociology of sport."
-Billy Hawkins, University of Georgia professor of kinesiology at the School of Health and Human Performance, author of The Dominant Images of Black Men in America: The O.J. Simpson Example and The White Supremacy Continuum of Images for Black Men

"The real value of the book is its willingness to address racist thought in the context of the black athlete and seek an honest dialogue on the topic. ... Entine does not fall victim to an easy conclusion. Overall, his quest is for dialogue and the only way that can happen is by presenting all of the evidence. He uses the success of black athletes as an entry point into a larger analysis, journeying back millions of years into the mystery of our shared genetics and perhaps, our differences."
-Africana, Brian Gilmore

"Critics cannot easily dismiss Entine's work. The author builds a powerful and nuanced case for his views as he sifts and ponders various studies and theories.

The most remarkable aspect of Taboo is the amount of ground the author covers. He includes telling anecdotes and statistics, a revealing overview of race science and how often it has been tied to a racist agenda, and a thoughtful history of sports integration. ... His book is a model of careful writing and reporting about a sensitive subject. Perhaps it will open the door a crack on an intriguing topic that merits wider discussion."
-The Hartford Courant, Bill Williams

"Entine chances being tarred and feathered as a racist by not only cataloging statistics of black sports dominance but, what's even more grievous, hazarding an explanation. ... He writes carefully on a very touchy topic, and made me a bit more optimistic that some decent people have the courage to broach important questions of genetics and race. If decent people don't discuss this subject, we concede the turf to black and white racists."
-AmericanEnterprise magazine, Walter E. Williams

"Taboo is a politically incorrect tome that threatens long-held notions and pushes the intellectual envelope. And that is what makes it a "must read"."
-BlackAthlete, John Posey

Science Reviews

"Jon Entine's book, Taboo, is a direct, powerful, and, effective challenge to an orthodoxy that has developed over the last 50 years for very understandable, though not valid, reasons:"Yes, racial variation does exist in our species, but it is quantitatively and functionally inconsequential; furthermore, there is every reason to believe that it couldn't be otherwise." Entine provides good evidence and solid arguments that should convince the reader that the orthodoxy is wrong."

"Jon Entine has broken the Taboo in the realm of athletic achievement. In a calm, measured, and reasoned discussion, he makes public what just about all the sports authorities he quotes in his book have acknowledged, mostly in private, for decades: Africans are better than the rest of us at some of those things that most make us human, and they are better because their separate African histories have given them, in effect, better genes for some of our recently developed tests of some basic human adaptations."
-Vincent Sarich, University of California/Berkeley anthropologist, Skeptic magazine

"This book is a MUST READ for anyone who is interested in the topic of genetics and sport. Entine's writing style is easy to read, compelling, and understandable. His documentation of facts, myths, and perceptions, is profound. Taboo is a book that should guide part of the paradigm for scientific thinking in the new Millennium."
-Darlene A. Kluka, Grambling State University, International Council of Sport Science and Physical Education Bulletin

"[Taboo] has the potential to stimulate a far ranging and meaningful dialogue on race. The material is carefully researched and intellectually honest while in the same moment, narrative and anecdotal enough to stimulate and maintain the interest of a broad base of readers."
-Jay T. Kearney, Former US Olympic Committee senior sports physiologist, Sport Science and Technology Division

"This is an important book for biological anthropologists.... The clarity, thoroughness, and humor that characterize Entine's history of racism in sports will captivate students and their professors. ... Few biological anthropologists will argue that human phenotypes and human performance are the result of some combination of genes and environment. ... Taboo may help to further develop and spread knowledge of the new, expanded biocultural view of human biology and performance. The book will engender debate (perhaps an understatement), and it will force readers to think more clearly about the usefulness of the "race" concept, about racism, and about the nature of both science and sport as social and cultural processes. ... I recommend this book for use in biological anthropology classes and students of Sciences of Sport in general - ranging from introductory survey courses to graduate level seminars on human genetics, human adaptability, and theory in human biology."
-American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Barry Bogin, Department of Behavioral Sciences, University of Michigan-Dearborn

"Entine boldly and brilliantly documents numerous physiological differences contributing to black athletic excellence. ... This point of view, put forth so lucidly by Entine and quietly accepted by sports science, will likely whip up a media tornado due to the volatility and obvious complexity of the issue. But Entine's work stands to open the conversation on racial differences to a broader range of topics ... because success in sports is so unambiguous, and the scientific data so unarguable."
-Psychology Today, Michael Levin, professor of philosophy at the City University of New York and author of Why Race Matters

"Few issues are as provocative and as poorly understood as biological differences among the races. So loaded are statements suggesting racial superiority or inferiority that, for the most part, an anxious hush surrounds the topic. To his credit, journalist Jon Entine has tackled this problem with a no-holds barred assault."

"Entine's emphasis on open dialogue regarding racial differences is noteworthy."

"Entine has put together a well-researched, relatively thorough and lucidly written case, arguing that in many spots-particularly basketball, football, and track and field-athletes of African descendants show a competitive advantage."

"Entine's proposed biocultural theory offers an attractive explanation, suggesting that cultural conditions can amplify small but meaningful differences in performance related to heredity."
-Scientific American, Loretta Dipietro, associate professor of epidimeology at the Yale University School of Medicine

"The book is excellent. Taboo addresses a difficult topic for our American society. We have frequently been unwilling to confront the issue about the "emperor's new clothes." And while 'racism' is a disgusting, abhorrent concept, we have as a society tried to ignore it rather than examine it. Taboo provides an excellent opportunity to present these biases and stereotypes by using sports as the vehicle. It is carefully crafted and evenhandedly presented in a manner that should promote the opportunity for discussions, debate and open dialogue. It will be a catalyst for dialogue, debate and open discussion."
-Gideon Ariel, founder and former director of USOC's Computer Science and Biomechanics Division, former Israeli Olympic shot-putter (1964)

"Taboo is a fascinating account of the history, controversies, and investigations of the rise and success of black athletes. In the US, it is often avoided in case the speaker or writer is branded as "racist." Entine has crafted a debate with ample exposure of many points of view. The book will help readers to gain a greater understanding and to see it as a multifaceted problem. Most publications have been rather one-sided, whereas you have provided a balanced perspective with consideration of many approaches. There are usually no easy answers to your questions, but you have melded the discussion to provide the knowledge and facts from the exercise and sports sciences as well as from the sociology of sport. Entine has not been afraid to critique sound or unsound science, as well as well-meaning or misguided politics and sociology."
-J.E. Lindsay Carter, Fellow of the American Academy of Physical Education, San Diego State University professor emeritus of exercise and nutritional sciences, author of Physical Structure of Olympic Athletes (1982) and Kinanthropometry of Olympic Athletes (1984)

"The central theme is Black athletic ability and achievement, the second is a history of popular views on race and race differences in ability, and the third is an account of current knowledge of human evolution and the development of biological diversity in our species. Taboo is like reading three books at once. It is a worthwhile trick."
-Population and Environment, Henry Harpending, anthropologist, University of Utah

"Taboo raises a number of currently relevant issues that our society needs to address openly and objectively."
-Robert Malina, Michigan State University Institute for the Study of Youth Sports, professor and director, professor of kinesiology, editor of the American Journal of Biology

"Jon Entine shows a lot of courage in publishing Taboo. Even though we still do not have all the answers about the average differences between Blacks and Whites and other human groups in athletic abilities or in the genetic polymorphisms that could account for innate differences in sport performance, if any, he makes the case that it is legitimate to ask such questions using the modern tools of exercise science, human biology, molecular biology and genetics. Of course, he is right. We should not have such difficulty in discussing openly one of the most fascinating chapters in the study of human diversity. I hope that the book is well received and that it fosters a constructive dialogue on these issues."
-Claude Bouchard, Laval University (Quebec City) geneticist and exercise physiologist, director of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University

"I believe that Taboo is one of the most important contributions that I have read on the topic of race and sport. It is careful, intellectually-honest, indeed brave attempt to provide facts to displace the prejudice, in this case, the prejudice of not wanting to address what is obvious, because of some perceived negative consequences."

"Perhaps most importantly, Taboo addresses not only the broad issue of "race" and sport, but also the reason why the topic is considered too politically sensitive to be discussed, at least in the United States."

"Taboo begins to quantify the real differences in sporting abilities between the very best performers in the different sports. It provides real data from which it is possible to make an educated guess of the extend to which those differences are likely to be inborn or due to environmental differences. As a result, it makes a significant contribution to the debate about racism as it affects Europe and North America. It also encourages individual readers to address their own racist views (which are universally present regardless of what any one might profess) and that could just be its most valuable contribution."
-Timothy Noakes, American College of Sports Medicine Fellow; director of Bioenergetics of Exercise Research Unit and the Sports Science Institute at the University of Cape Town, South Africa; runner of more than 100 marathons, and author of The Lore of Running

"Taboo blends a powerful journalistic style with an acute sense of history and a balanced skepticism in asking unpleasant questions of scientists and sociologists alike, which both sides will ultimately need to address if they are to jointly ward off the ideologues and demagogues. We can no longer afford to ignore the renaissance of synthetic approaches to the science and sociology of race, even as biologists join their social science colleagues in questioning the very existence of racial categories as traditionally and popularly defined."
-Michael Speirs, University of Pennsylvania Medical School and Swarthmore College Department of Anthropology and Sociology

"The majority of Entine's tome is concerned with outlining the origins and history of the 'Taboo' itself - the reasons why Americans are reluctant to talk about human differences in general, and athletic differences in particular - and it is here that Entine is at his best."

"Entine understands that as scientists continue to study the complex interactions between genes and the environment, population-based genetic differences will continue to surface. We can speculate in private, or openly probe, debate, and seek answers. Taboo is not only an excellent survey of a controversial subject, it is also an impassioned argument in favor of this more democratic approach."

"Taboo provides a wonderful opportunity to share with the public a message of the importance of human biological and cultural diversity in its myriad forms and mechanisms. It clearly dispenses with the notion that athleticism in Africans or African-Americans is entirely due only to biology or only to culture. Biological variation in complex traits is always a result of their interaction. Any dialogue or understanding between different racial groups should start with the facts. Scientific information should not be suppressed from the public because it would erode trust and generate suspicions. Taboo will contribute to the dialogue between ethnicities because "it tells it like it is!"
-Michael Crawford, University of Kansas professor of biological anthropology and genetics, president of the Human Biology Association, former editor of the journal Human Biology

"Taboo brings together a wealth of both anecdotal and scientific information in a palatable form that will stimulate discussion and debate. Too often are such topics discussed at dinner parties, with only individual's opinions aired. Too many sweeping generalizations on this topic have been made on the basis of a commentator's uninformed opinion alone. To withhold information from the public on the basis of it being racial in nature is indeed racist and regressive."

"The bottom line is that we compare young with old, we compare individuals who have sickle cell anemia with those who don't, we compare the obese with the non-obese, and we compare those who are susceptible to diabetes with those who are not. Some of these comparisons have genetic foundations and some don't. This is purely a scientific question - one that will tell us more about determinants of elite athletic performance."
-Adele Weston, School of Exercise and Sport Science, The University of Sydney, Australia

"Taboo opens up the subject of race and sport for a more informed public debate than has been possible hitherto. It provides several sides to the argument (nature or nurture) and uses a variety of sources, both pro and contra. It sets an agenda for debate. It encourages debate but from a well-informed base position. This book draws on an impressive bibliography. But it is supplemented with fascinating interviews with key actors on the 'ethnic stage' and is presented in a user-friendly way."
-John Bale, Keele University (UK) professor of sports geography, author of Kenyan Running, The Global Sports Arena

"Entine assembles an enormous amount of information and wrote a well-documented and well-balanced account of biological and sociological explanations of the superiority of Black Athletes in a variety of sports. Moreover, he has managed to find an excellent mix of scientific explanations and background with anecdotal and bibliographic information about black athletes. Taboo reads like a novel."
-Gaston Beunen, Catholic University professor of Kinesiology, director of the Center for Physical Development Research, Human Biology Council (US), Society for Research in Child Development, European Anthropological Society, Research Committee of International Council of Sport and Physical Education

General Reviews

"Taboo is the most explosive book on sports to come out in years. Mr. Entine has written, in the words of one prominent black academic, "the book that everyone believes but no one dares quote."
-Allen Barra, The Wall Street Journal

"Taboo is a brave sprint in the marathon of genetic equality. Courageous enough to ask tough questions about the uneven playing field, forthright enough to present hard evidence."
-Kirkus Reviews

"Entine makes a careful and reasoned case ... and he argues forcefully against whatever tendency there may be out there in the world of racial politics to misinterpret it. ... He is fully aware of the nasty double bind that blacks, especially in the United States, have always been in when the subject was sports.

"Entine drives relentlessly to a politically incorrect conclusion."
-The New York Times, Richard Bernstein

"It is to the credit of Jon Entine .. that he has lifted the veil and removed the Taboo from a potentially explosive subject....

"Entine has done a brilliant job of making his case. There will be those who will refuse to listen, but his work will be difficult to refute, given the overwhelming nature of both the anecdotal and the scientific evidence. ... Entine will be attacked from both sides, by sociologists and anthropologists who willfully refuse to acknowledge what both science and common sense tell us - that in many of the games to which we devote so much money, passion and attention, black athletes are simply better."

"Entine, equally comfortable in the worlds of sports and science, builds his case with evidence from both fields, especially the science of genetics."
-Montreal Gazette, Jack Todd

"Taboo uses sport as a vehicle for examining racism and our society. It is carefully crafted and the evenhanded presentation of carefully researched data should lift dialog from biases and stereotypes to examining the real issues facing us today. It is a must-read for those who take our society and its current problems and prospects very seriously."
-Roger Kaufman, Florida State University professor and director of the Center for Needs Assessment and Planning

"The politically correct crowd won't like this book. ... Entine works hard to debunk ridiculous stereotypes. .. Entine provides a convincing argument that training practices and other social and cultural factors alone can't explain why sprinters with West African roots, African-American basketball players and Kenyan marathoners so dominate their field. ... There's another, even more interesting theme that lurks throughout this book, and that's the way this subject has been ruled off-limits on the American agenda. Why, we might ask, can't a country that tolerates Jerry Springer and Morton Downey Jr., even inviting them into some of our homes, talk sensibly about the role genetics plays in blacks' success on the playing fields? Entine is at his best here."
-Gene Warner, Buffalo News

"In Taboo, Jon Entine, a journalist, brings this evidence together to make a painstaking case that race and genetics are indeed ''significant components'' of the ''stunning and undeniable dominance of black athletes.''

Entine, for his part, could not be more admiring of the courage black athletes have shown in triumphing over barriers put in their way by the white sports establishment. He gives stirring profiles of figures like Jack Johnson, the flamboyant heavyweight who won the world title in 1908, and of lesser-known ones like the black jockeys who dominated horse racing after the Civil War."
-Jim Holt, The Sunday New York Times Book Review

"You might expect that claiming to show a genetic basis for the dominance of certain sports by people of African descent would raise a firestorm. But in fact Entine's book gets warm reviews."

"[Taboo is] a challenging and controversial book, but one that raises topics worthy of discussion."
-Dallas Morning News, book critic Lee Milazzo

"Entine's nature-nurture argument is ultimately persuasive."
-Book Magazine, David Davis

"A book that will be enjoyed and endlessly debated by everyone from Olympic champions to recreational athletes to armchair sports fans.... Taboo helps us understand-and even celebrate-that while we're mostly the same, we are also wonderfully different."
-Runner's World editor Amby Burfoot

" ... a notable and jarring work.... Perhaps Entine's topic alone will offend some readers. But that shouldn't detract from the author's balanced and thorough treatment. Two themes appear throughout the book: the succession of baseless stereotypes that black athletes have smashed to win the grudging acceptance of white America; and the histories of evolutionary, racial, and related sciences. ... Entine's treatment of his central theme is laudable. And because it brings intelligence to a little-understood subject, so is this book."
-Business Week, Mark Hyman

"The evidence Entine presents is overwhelming."
-National Review, John Derbyshire

"The timing has never been better for Entine's balanced, well-reasoned, and above all- calm-examination of the issue. ... Entine convincingly argues for the primacy of the overwhelming on-the-field evidence, allows for the determining X factors of environment, and depoliticizes the discussion by attempting to kill the long-held cultural bedtime story about the link between athletic excellence and low intelligence.

"It's no small thing to make a bold effort to discuss, unflinchingly, what we really talk about when we talk about race and sports. These days, you can even call it progress."
-Sports Illustrated, S.L. Price

"Entine takes particular pains to distance himself from those who've advanced theories of white supremacy."

There is still room to believe that environmental and cultural factors play a significant role in athletic success. But, after reading Entine's carefully marshaled, limited argument in Taboo, it is difficult to believe that genetics do not also play a role."
-Arkansas Post-Gazette, Philip Martin

"I don't know if Entine is right or if he is wrong, although I hope someday after decades of bickering we'll find out. But I do know this. The dialogue that he almost certainly will provoke is not the problem. It's the solution."
-USA Today, Christine Brennan

"Entine pays tribute to the unstudied aspects of athletic, or for that matter, any success, which is the remarkable synergism of inherent gifts, sweat and drive. It is neither wrong nor racist to speak of natural ability - it is wrong to say it is controlling, for nature ends when the indomitable and very much individual human spirit kicks in for its say on outcome."
-Deseret News, Marianne Jennings, Arizona State University legal ethicist

"[Entine] approaches the subject with neutral curiosity about the fascinating variety of the human race. But despite this, Taboo is certain to provoke cries of outrage in some quarters. ... It might be objected that Entine's entire argument is conceptually flawed from the outset, because "race" itself is a meaningless concept. In a lucid discussion, Entine demolishes the voguish assertion that "there's no such thing as race."
-Salon, Gary Kamiya, executive editor.

Entine goes where few care to go by taking a serious look at the connections between race and athletic performance. ... Are black athletes better than the rest? The author says there isn't a short and simple answer. This is clear in Entine's balanced, comprehensive presentation."
-Christian Science Monitor, Ross Atkin

"consistently interesting, readable, provocative."
-The New York Times, Robert Lipsyte

"[Taboo] is utterly persuasive in making the case that black athletic superiority is genetic in nature."
-Commentary, Dan Seligman

"Acting in good faith and using his considerable skills as a journalist, Entine has dared to offer up an explosive set of ideas."
-San Francisco Examiner, Scott Winokur

"Enlightenment is difficult when the topic is race. It can`t be brought up without people getting defensive, offensive or simply uncomfortable. Entine`s new book has uncapped that geyser. ... Entine simply documented what every objective observer already knows: All men - and women - are not created equal. ... He just wants to explain why, and what it means. Whether or not you like his findings, ignoring them won`t solve anything."
-Orlando Sentinel, David Whitley

"Entine, basically, is a liberal who believes in tolerance, understanding and empathy, but who feels compelled to document what he believes is scientifically manifest. He says again and again that learning the truth about ourselves as people-even if it means acknowledging differences-ultimately will bring us closer together. ... Is Taboo just another malevolent piece of screed masquerading as scientific fact? I don't think so. But I would ask each person who takes the time to read this book to ask himself, What does this mean to me and my own views of mankind? And I would hope each person's answer is: Didn't God make us with a flourish?
- Rick Telander, Chicago Sun-Times

"A brilliant and illuminating work that will cause racists and reverse racists alike to froth at the mouth and yell 'Foul!"
-Jack Olsen, author of The Black Athlete: A Shameful Story

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