The Body Builders: Inside the Science of the Engineered Human

In the 1970s, TV's Steve Austin was the stuff of kids' dreams. Rebuilt after a horrific accident, the Six Million Dollar Man had a bionic eye, could run alongside a car and leap onto tall buildings. Thanks to real-world bioengineering, the Steve Austin model has been left in the dust. Today we can regenerate tissue to grow new body parts, see using our ears, stave off degenerative diseases with enhanced muscle growth, and medically augment intuition.

It may still sound like television fantasy, but journalist Adam Piore's The Body Builders offers a behind-the-scenes peek into the astounding realm of human engineering. Steeped in heady principles, Piore uses examples of tragedy and indomitable human resilience to give life and depth to the subject. The science is complex, but his conversational style is captivating whether or not one knows how big a container you'd need to hold 2.4 million nucleotides.

Neither scientists nor Piore believe the story stops here. Our ever-advancing ability to hack bodies and minds to make "better" versions of ourselves has implications far beyond fixing broken or missing parts. Will the concepts be used for good? Who decides what that is? If we have the ability to engineer superhuman soldiers who are impervious to pain, should we?

The Body Builders raises these and many other difficult questions. The answers are unknown, but there is no denying Piore has crafted a fascinating foundation for discussion, while highlighting the dedication of our scientists and the resilience of the human spirit. --Lauren O'Brien of Malcolm Avenue Review

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