This excerpt from Being Human: How Our Biology Shaped World History starts with a fascinating look at human biochemistry and our addiction predisposition. But our particular brand of ape is also prone to greed, and Lewis Dartnell goes on to explain how the East India Company found it could profit off addiction, trafficking opium into China — rather than silver — causing an opioid crisis that lasted for 150 years. A heady mix of science of history.

We’re also riddled with defects in our biochemistry and DNA – data-corrupted genes that no longer work – which means, for instance, that we must eat a diet more varied than almost any other animal to obtain the nutrients we need to survive. And our brains, far from being perfectly rational thinking machines, are full of cognitive glitches and bugs. We’re also prone to addictions that drive compulsive behaviour, sometimes along self-destructive paths.