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Sex and War: How Biology Explains Warfare and Terrorism and Offers a Path to a Safer World | [Malcom Potts, Thomas Hayden]

Sex and War: How Biology Explains Warfare and Terrorism and Offers a Path to a Safer World

Human beings have been battling one another since time immemorial. But why war and terrorism? Why are men almost always the killers, and why are war and sex so inextricably linked? Why do we kill members of our own species intentionally, when few other animals do so?
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Publisher's Summary

Human beings have been battling one another since time immemorial. But why war and terrorism? Why are men almost always the killers, and why are war and sex so inextricably linked? Why do we kill members of our own species intentionally, when few other animals do so?

Sex and War traces the cultural and biological evolution of warfare from its prehuman origins through to our own times. In the spirit of Guns, Germs, and Steel, Potts and Hayden pull together insights from history, archaeology, psychology and biology to produce a clarifying new understanding of human history and current events.

Combining exhaustive research and rich personal experience, Sex and War shows that war, terrorism, slavery, and the subjugation of women have common roots deep in our biological history. Evolution is not destiny, however, and the authors, with the crucial contributions of Martha Campbell, show how relatively simple strategies can help the biology of peace win out over the biology of war. In doing so, they lay out a rational roadmap to make war less likely in the future, and less brutal when it does occur.

©2008 Malcom Potts and Thomas Hayden; (P)2010 Audible, Inc.

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  •  
    Craig Campbell austin, TX United States 08-26-11
    Craig Campbell austin, TX United States 08-26-11 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "New Perspective"

    It was a new perspective for me to link sex and war to evolution. It provides another avenue for hope about peace since it is no longer an evolutionary positive trait. How we overcome our caveman responses to events seems like the next step.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    sona Pearl River, NY, United States 10-25-11
    sona Pearl River, NY, United States 10-25-11 Member Since 2010
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    "Examining the demons"

    I came to this book with many searing questions of my own, particularly concerning the evil men perpetrate on women. Malcolm Potts & Thomas Hayden make a clear case for the existence of such unnecessary brutality in our day, neither excusing it nor making men out to be devils. When such acts are aired out in the clarity of evolution and genetics, as well as the human psyche, the male gender gets a second chance at being understood while not being let off such behavior. The authors also make a commendable effort to picture the world led by a feminine hand, and the stability and hope that lies therein. An engaging read recommended for all, including school-age discussion.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stefan Lexington, KY, United States 09-12-11
    Stefan Lexington, KY, United States 09-12-11 Member Since 2009
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    "very convincing and thought-provoking hypothesis"

    The main hypothesis of the book is that humans evolved by selecting males that killed most successfully non-related humans from other groups ("outgroups"), while at the same time were most supportive and emphatic towards members of their own group ("ingroup"), which gave them a reproductive advantage.

    This theory is well documented by hard data from biology, archeology, sociology and gives a concise picture of human behavior, which is applied to recent political events, such as the response to 9/11.

    The authors promote the idea that empowering woman by allowing them to control the number of their children through access of contraceptives is the most effective way of war prevention.
    Although their theory cannot be fully proven like models in physics or molecular biology, it is worth considering, as it explains so many aspects of human behavior.
    One aspect that could have been investigated in more detail is "paternity fraud", where a woman gives a man the false impression that he is the father of her child. Several studies estimate this number to be around 10% (but there are studies with a higher and lower rate). This suggests that woman developed a strategy to escape strict male dominance and genetic traits underpinning this 'cheating' strategy will be in our current gene pool. Thus even if contraception reduces the number of humans on earth and their fight for resources, this world might not be as peaceful as the authors hope.

    This book was very well written and narrated, enjoyed listening/reading to it and fully recommend it.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J.T. 08-22-11
    J.T. 08-22-11
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    "This is the Berkley view point on terriorism"

    The goal of the book is admirable. In the early part of the book it is well documented with citations. As it moves to more modern examples the authors just get the facts wrong I think to prove a point.

    The best example is the 9/11 hitchackers none fit his profile. Another example would be the the idea after 9/11 to ignore or not repsond to the attack. He fails to "recall" the number of attacks we did not respond to before 9/11 so the time between decrease but the deaths increased with each.

    The value is the understanding of male and female groups he based on chimp studies. That was useful and well done.

    4 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    BirderMame Jackson Hole, WY USA 06-06-14
    BirderMame Jackson Hole, WY USA 06-06-14 Member Since 2003
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    "Important and fascinating"

    The biological science explained here provides important insights into human behavior and offers hope that a species for whom to be combative offered an evolutionary advantage may nevertheless succeed in overcoming those innate characteristics and achieving peace.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christine A. Strand Portland, OR 12-31-13
    Christine A. Strand Portland, OR 12-31-13 Member Since 2007

    Chris

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    "This should be one everyone s reading list"
    Where does Sex and War rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    By far the most clarifying non fiction book I have ever read


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Due to the non fiction nature of this book there is no true character- humans, chimps yes.


    What does Dennis Holland bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Focus and emphasis


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    There is in depth explanations of oppression of women is directly related to aggression, territory and violence.


    Any additional comments?

    Oh what we have done to our DNA. Reproducing with the strongest, most aggressive male of the species as led us to a place in time that we have to chose not to war. I am unable to atriculate the profound experience and meaning this book has brought to me, potentially our nation and the world.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    andrea CHINO VALLEY, AZ, United States 12-21-13
    andrea CHINO VALLEY, AZ, United States 12-21-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Insightful and thought provoking"

    The way to Peace is right in front of us, if we would only think. At the crux is women's ability to choose when and how many children she should have. This should be on every Congressman, Politician, Religious Leader's list. Actually everyone would benefit by this thoughtful presentation.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sam Motes Tampa 11-12-13
    Sam Motes Tampa 11-12-13 Member Since 2011

    Audible obsessed lifelong learner.

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    "The violent primal drive in us all"

    In this book the author argues that our primal instincts of violence, dominance, spirituality, and propensity to gather into in groups with hatred for all others leads killing of our own species and the drive for war. It is in our genes but the author points our how we can evolve beyond those base impulses to strive for peace.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michelle Cleveland, MS, United States 10-27-13
    Michelle Cleveland, MS, United States 10-27-13 Member Since 2012
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    "an explanation of human behavior and desire"
    If you could sum up Sex and War in three words, what would they be?

    Darwinian, enlightening, horrifying


    What other book might you compare Sex and War to and why?

    Origin of Species because if read and understood it could change the world in a positive way.


    Which character – as performed by Dennis Holland – was your favorite?

    The bonobos. Although characters were not performed in this book, Dennis Holland does a wonderful job of narrating.


    If you could give Sex and War a new subtitle, what would it be?

    An Evolutionary Interpretation of History


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Garry Cannington, Australia 03-28-13
    Garry Cannington, Australia 03-28-13 Member Since 2011

    I work in IT, I love reading, I love Writing and for those daily travels too and fro I love to listen to Audible books too

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    "Enjoyable, long but interesting"
    Where does Sex and War rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Took me longer to listen to than others but for the most part I would rate this as probably top 20


    Any additional comments?

    This is a good work by author and narrator. I did find this of interest and had some great fascinating moments. It is dry to listen too but worth the listen

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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