Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Book Review: Can Man Be Modified?


Written in French by Jean Rostand in 1956 and translated to English in 1959 by Jonathan Griffin, the book Can man be Modified? is one scientific authors prediction of our biological future.  It has been nearly sixty years since this book was written by Rostand, son of Edmond Rostand who was well known for his work Cyrano de Bergerac, and it is therefore interesting to examine in the context of what we currently know.  I found a first American edition of this book, published by Basic Books, in very good condition in an estate sale.  From my research on the price of this book in pristine condition, I can, on first inspection, observe that it is worth very little in monetary value, which may suggest that its content is also of little value.  Older books that are of little value, especially in first edition, suggest that it may have been either overproduced or without substantial merit.   Essays and scientific texts typically hold value due to famous authorship, predictive value, or influence on social change; one can suggest that Can Man Be Modified? may have none of these values. However, Rostand is an excellent writer and makes his case in 105 pages, so it was a weekend read.  Rostand separates his book into three sections; Victories and Hopes of Biology, Man and Science, and Can Man be Modified? which will be the outline of my review as well.