We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access.
Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships | [Christopher Ryan, Cacilda Jetha]

Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships

Since Darwin's day, we've been told that sexual monogamy comes naturally to our species. Mainstream science - as well as religious and cultural institutions - has maintained that men and women evolved in families in which a man's possessions and protection were exchanged for a woman's fertility and fidelity. But this narrative is collapsing....
Regular Price:$24.95
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Your Likes make Audible better!

'Likes' are shared on Facebook and Audible.com. We use your 'likes' to improve Audible.com for all our listeners.

You can turn off Audible.com sharing from your Account Details page.

OK

Audible Editor Reviews

In Sex at Dawn, husband and wife team Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá have written a book that questions both modern-day standards of human sexual behavior and the scientific history of our early ancestors. The book first explains and defines what it refers to as “the standard narrative”, the story of how humans evolved from our prehistoric ancestors to be monogamous beings with conflicting biological imperatives for males and females. Then, it goes on to refute this narrative, providing evidence from noted modern scholars like Steven Pinker, Malcolm Gladwell, and Frans De Waal, as well as renowned scientists and philosophers like Charles Darwin, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Thomas Hobbes.

Ryan and Jethá write, “Science all too often grovels at the feet of the dominant cultural paradigm.” Indeed, one of the most powerful ideas that Sex at Dawn puts forth is that culture has a way of coloring scientific and historical “fact”. Some of the examples given are quite disturbing, especially when large institutions are clearly engaged in cover ups of our true nature. The authors assert that many sexual myths (for example, that masturbation is some kind of medical affliction) have been repeated and disseminated over the years by religious, health, and state organizations. They take a controversial stance that this “cover up” tactic has also been applied to the non-monogamy of our closest primate relatives and early man. They believe that even if non-monogamy is not the dominant mode of being for contemporary humans, at the very least it should be viewed as a historic basis for our desires and behaviors.

The narration, which alternates between Allyson Johnson and Jonathan Davis, is clear and straightforward, particularly well-suited to this kind of book. Johnson especially makes the information, which can sometimes be dense, easily digestible and relatable. One of the authors, Christopher Ryan, reads the preface, which gives a hint of how he came to be interested in exploring the given subject matter. Through this section, we also get a way to connect directly to the authors and thus, the human (as opposed to the scientific) aspect of the issues discussed.

To claim that this work is exclusively or even mostly about sexual behavior would be a stretch. The book is very holistic, tackling bigger-picture issues of science, culture, history, and philosophy. That said, these large ideas are needed as building blocks for the claims the authors make about sex. Another triumph of Sex at Dawn is the attention the authors have given to presenting material on sex as it applies to men and women equally. Along those lines, another high point of the narration is that it echoes this sentiment through the interchanging male and female voices, reminding us that these ideas apply to both sexes in different ways.

What the book posits exactly is somewhat unclear. The authors themselves admit that they're not exactly sure what to do with all the information they have unearthed. That said, the great strength of Sex at Dawn is that it opens the discourse about human sexual behavior sans many of the taboos that traditionally accompany the topic. —Gina Pensiero

Publisher's Summary

Since Darwin's day, we've been told that sexual monogamy comes naturally to our species. Mainstream science - as well as religious and cultural institutions - has maintained that men and women evolved in families in which a man's possessions and protection were exchanged for a woman's fertility and fidelity. But this narrative is collapsing. Fewer and fewer couples are getting married, and divorce rates keep climbing as adultery and flagging libido drag down even seemingly solid marriages.

How can reality be reconciled with the accepted narrative? It can't be, according to renegade thinkers Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha. While debunking almost everything we "know" about sex, they offer a bold alternative explanation in this provocative and brilliant book.

Ryan and Jetha's central contention is that human beings evolved in egalitarian groups that shared food, child care, and, often, sexual partners. Weaving together convergent, frequently overlooked evidence from anthropology, archaeology, primatology, anatomy, and psychosexuality, the authors show how far from human nature monogamy really is. Human beings everywhere and in every era have confronted the same familiar, intimate situations in surprisingly different ways. The authors expose the ancient roots of human sexuality while pointing toward a more optimistic future illuminated by our innate capacities for love, cooperation, and generosity.

BONUS AUDIO: Includes a Preface written and read by author Christopher Ryan.

©2010 Christopher Ryan, Cacilda Jetha (P)2010 Audible, Inc

What the Critics Say

“Funny, witty, and light ... Sex at Dawn is a scandal in the best sense, one that will have you reading the best parts aloud and reassessing your ideas about humanity’s basic urges well after the book is done.” (Newsweek)

Sex at Dawn is the single most important book about human sexuality since Alfred Kinsey unleashed Sexual Behavior in the Human Male on the American public in 1948.” (Dan Savage)

"My favorite book of 2010...it's the only book I read this year that proved that I was badly mistaken about something." (Peter Sagal, host of NPR's Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (2144 )
5 star
 (1082)
4 star
 (591)
3 star
 (294)
2 star
 (111)
1 star
 (66)
Overall
4.2 (1533 )
5 star
 (802)
4 star
 (417)
3 star
 (203)
2 star
 (67)
1 star
 (44)
Story
4.1 (1536 )
5 star
 (709)
4 star
 (486)
3 star
 (230)
2 star
 (79)
1 star
 (32)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Gustavo Smidt Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires Argentina 12-03-12
    Gustavo Smidt Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires Argentina 12-03-12 Member Since 2013

    Argentine Gus

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    26
    3
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Very interesting! (but missing some information)"
    Any additional comments?

    The book makes a strong point about why humans cheat, but it would be great if it included more information on why they started getting married in the first place (other than just mentioning agriculture and the management of land).

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ariyaratne thalangama north, Sri Lanka 11-12-12
    ariyaratne thalangama north, Sri Lanka 11-12-12 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5
    4
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A Nice Evolusionary Explanation about Sexuallity"
    What did you love best about Sex at Dawn?

    This evolutionary theory explain lots of issues related to modern day sexuality.


    Have you listened to any of the narrators’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    narrator's performance is outstanding.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    definitely yes, but practically you can't do it one go as the book is very comprehensive and runs for several hours.


    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ruy Wolfenbuettel, Germany 10-24-12
    Ruy Wolfenbuettel, Germany 10-24-12 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    111
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    135
    23
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    4
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "amazing"

    This is a well researched book, that while focuses on sexual human behavior, touches many other human traits during evolution, such as war and agression, cooperation and the overal impact that our culture might have in the research of our own selves. For an example I liked, they discuss how the victorian values and traditions biased the way Darwin reported his findings, and how his writings were censored to remove ideas offending the common beliefs of that time. The authors clearly name many controversial themes that are deeply ingrained in our cultural behavior and challenge their pertinence to what being human really means.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David H Palo Alto, CA United States 10-15-12
    David H Palo Alto, CA United States 10-15-12 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    62
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    231
    74
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    3
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Interest and disturbing"

    The book was so well received that Sex at Dusk was written. I followed all their arguments. However, I'm not certain I am ready to divorce sex and love. Yes, it's been done, but my own experience is quite painful when that happens. Would like to know more about the cultures which practice much freer forms of sexuality. I was engrossed in this book and couldn't wait to get back to it. Definitely worth a listen.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marcus Plano, TX, United States 10-09-12
    Marcus Plano, TX, United States 10-09-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Challenging and Articulate"
    What made the experience of listening to Sex at Dawn the most enjoyable?

    Sound quality was clear and there were no technical issues.

    Content was intellectually challenging and I have enjoyed exposure to the ideas. Going head to head with the accepted scientific backing for "how we relate" is daring and I am glad to have been enlightened to another intellectual approach.

    Bravo.


    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Viviane Dunedin, New Zealand 04-28-12
    Viviane Dunedin, New Zealand 04-28-12 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    16
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    115
    18
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Must read, period."

    One of the most enlightening reads ever. Any (wo)man who has ever wondered where the human race got it so wrong with pair-bonded relationships will find this inspiring, presented in a palatable format. Willingness to get your cob-webbed beliefs thrown out is a prerequisite to make this a most enjoyable audiobook. Have given the printed book to many of my friends. Recommended.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Raglan, New Zealand 04-12-12
    Mark Raglan, New Zealand 04-12-12 Member Since 2011

    I love listening to books when cycling, paddleboarding, etc but I press pause when I need to concentrate. Its safer & I don't lose the plot!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    480
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    73
    73
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    43
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "changed my way of thinking about humanity"
    Would you listen to Sex at Dawn again? Why?

    No. Life is too short to relisten


    What did you like best about this story?

    A thoroughly convincing argument to explain human sexuality and debunk the 'traditional' narrative


    What about the narrators’s performance did you like?

    It worked


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I was always disappointed to click the stop button


    Any additional comments?

    Highly recommendable to lovers of popular science

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ,Louis-Philippe NOTRE-DAME-DU-PORTAGE, QC, Canada 04-09-12
    ,Louis-Philippe NOTRE-DAME-DU-PORTAGE, QC, Canada 04-09-12 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5
    5
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Opens-up your Mind!"
    What did you love best about Sex at Dawn?

    The facts and how they are presented with humour.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The lady reader, Allyson Johnson,who has the major part and has subtle voice inflexions that I found profundly meaningfull and funny!


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

    Well, apart from the fact that I could listen to it while driving or walking, the voices are warm and add a bright & intelligent tone to the words of the book.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Futile attempts of imposing monogamy


    Any additional comments?

    I would have liked the author to elaborate more on the scientific aspects of STDs

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jenna Langley, BC, Canada 01-26-12
    Jenna Langley, BC, Canada 01-26-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Life Changing"

    This book had me captivated from start to finish. The authors are brilliant, they blast huge holes through societies' monogamist rules and they have done the research to back it up. This book has completely changed my way of thinking and has allowed me to understand why I and others around me act in certain ways. I have seen some negative reveiws stating that this book was not worth it as it doesn't give any answers. That's the point! There are no answers, this book simply provides you with the facts so that you may make your own decisions... its a text book not a self-help book. I hope you enjoy and learn as much as I did!!

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jim "The Impatient" Springfield, MO, United States 12-30-11
    Jim "The Impatient" Springfield, MO, United States 12-30-11 Member Since 2015

    I will listen to NO boring book. Old Fav's,Card, King , Hobb. New Fav's, Hill, Scalzi, Sawyer, Interested in Lansdale, Crouch, Konrath

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1987
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    714
    686
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    153
    26
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Takes an Open Mind"

    I am a christian male who has been happily married for over 33 years. My wife still turns men's heads at 53. Throughout our marriage I have wondered why I have been attracted to other females, when I am so happy at home. Why do so many men married to super star women cheat on their wives (Brad Pitt, Tiger Woods, etc.)

    This puts out the argument that we were not meant to be monogamous. Monogamy is unhealthy.

    They also show evidence that moving from hunter gathers to an agricultural society is the cause of many of our ill's today. We were not kick out of The Garden of Eden, we were kicked into it.

    I am not a bible scholar, but think about this: God wanted us to trust him fully. Perhaps the tree of knowledge was the knowledge on how to grow apples. We started growing crops and not depending upon God. To be healthy we need to eat a variety of foods. Cultivation has lead us to stay in one place and eat the same foods. This leads to vitamin deficiency. A book offered by this club that I have not read yet is called Wheat Belly, which is supposed to be about how wheat makes us fat. Was Cain's sacrifice to God not appreciated because it was grain? Cain and the apple tree are not mentioned in the book, they are what I thought of because this book makes you think, but you have to be open minded.

    The book is very entertaining and reminded me several times of Jean Auel's series. She has taken grief sometimes because of her randy cave men. This shows that she may not have showed them as randy enough.

    The book is very one sided and it has not convinced me to cheat on my wife or join a commune, but it is a different way to think about our society past and present and I always enjoy writings that challenge the norm. If you can not be open minded about your religion our belief system then you will hate this book. If you like to challenge your beliefs then this is food for thought.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank You

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.