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 Audiobook

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

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 -

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

4.3 (3084 )
5 star
 (1752)
4 star
 (780)
3 star
 (354)
2 star
 (117)
1 star
 (81)
Overall
4.3 (2353 )
5 star
 (1376)
4 star
 (580)
3 star
 (266)
2 star
 (73)
1 star
 (58)
Story
4.3 (2358 )
5 star
 (1232)
4 star
 (697)
3 star
 (291)
2 star
 (93)
1 star
 (45)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    David Sofia, Bulgaria 12-09-10
    David Sofia, Bulgaria 12-09-10 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    15
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    35
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    1
    Overall
    "Don't overthink the sex."

    This is perhaps one of the best books about sex, with actual empirical and scientific evidence, while philosophical and non fact based research are ignored when possible. Book points out number of fallacies in modern evolutionary psychology theories.

    I do recommend to read it to everyone who is older than 14.

    15 of 24 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Blake Portland, OR, United States 06-10-13
    Blake Portland, OR, United States 06-10-13 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    104
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    85
    50
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    11
    8
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Seemingly radical ideas, but strong evidence."

    With as juicy a topic as sex, you would think that more science books would be attempting to get to the bottom of the origins of our unique sexual behaviors. Some of the ideas that are assumed true by folks like Robert Wright or Steven Pinker are given a more thorough examination here. One example is the idea that men's and women's sexual motives are evolved to be opposed to one another. Another theory is presented, and backed up well enough with research to at least make you reconsider. One argument that I found to be very strong was that men are not evolved to need to be positive about paternity and that sexual jealousy is not innately wired into Them. It sounds crazy at first, but the evidence is very strong. The book busts one myth after another, and shows rather convincingly in many chapters that a move toward monogamous partnerships hasn't been 100% good for us. Then it makes a strong case that monogamy is a relatively new norm. Despite the fact that we are so adamant that cheating is the worst thing ever, it's done with head spinning frequency. While not every argument made in the book will turn out to be perfect, the case the authors make is strong enough to demand more attention. And if nothing else, it's a sexy topic, so you get your money's worth on that alone.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Grant NANTUCKET, MA, United States 05-29-13
    Grant NANTUCKET, MA, United States 05-29-13 Member Since 2009

    caffeinated

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1302
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    180
    109
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    301
    10
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Setting evolutionary biologists straight."

    It's high time someone wrote a book that clears the air with regard to the origins of man's sexuality free from the miasma of religious and societal stigma. Well done.

    5 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marie Kerby 01-22-11
    Marie Kerby 01-22-11 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    41
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    19
    13
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    3
    0
    Overall
    "Excellent Book"

    I really enjoyed it. It was well worth listening. I liked learning about the Bonobo apes and how they are very similar to us; especially in comparison to other apes. I really enjoyed the author's voice. The author elaborates clearly regarding the sexual practices and customs of various tribes of people. I learned a lot about anthropology, culture and history from this audiobook.

    11 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gerald fitchburg, WI, United States 11-04-10
    Gerald fitchburg, WI, United States 11-04-10 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    43
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    70
    6
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    "Important"

    May be the first truly important book on the subject of sex this century. Ground breaking. Read this book.

    30 of 50 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ovb 02-07-13
    ovb 02-07-13 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    26
    3
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Nice, enjoyed it but one point of view"
    What made the experience of listening to Sex at Dawn the most enjoyable?

    It give a nice overview of the topic from a different view
    Although not all "evidence" is not as solide as the present it.

    and f the evidens not suite it is ignore or twiste

    regardless it is a great listen and i enjoyed this audiobook a lot

    i read an other reviewer "good but not great" i follow him/her in the review.

    but good is good enough for me ... it was not boring nor trying to convince you (too hard)

    Recommended


    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jay WICHITA, KS, United States 12-28-12
    Jay WICHITA, KS, United States 12-28-12 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    13
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    34
    34
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Very good listen!"

    I would recommend this book to everyone wanting to understand males, females, sex and marriage. This book helps explain where human sexuality comes from and why we have the issues we do today. It doesn't recommend a solution, just explains how we have arrived at this point. The understanding of how and why we "are" is key to helping us solve our marital issues.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris Jeffries 06-29-13 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great book, somewhat too convincing."
    What did you love best about Sex at Dawn?

    The book was very insightful but it. They have a solid thesis and idea but no true downsides about the authors beliefs were included. This is something each reader will have to listen carefully to find the errors and the great insight. I believe the author is right but has too much interest on his/her side of the story for good reason.


    4 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jason SEATTLE, WA, United States 06-16-13
    Jason SEATTLE, WA, United States 06-16-13 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    72
    13
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great Book"
    Would you recommend Sex at Dawn to your friends? Why or why not?

    Yes, it gives a sense of our instate sexually and causes you to examine a subject that is not easily talked about.


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

    Yes, I was engaged and captivated the entire time.


    4 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Vadim Maitland, FL, United States 12-25-12
    Vadim Maitland, FL, United States 12-25-12 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Scientific study of the origins of modersexuality"
    Would you listen to Sex at Dawn again? Why?

    There's a lots of interesting facts that might be worth to hear again


    What other book might you compare Sex at Dawn to and why?

    I haven't read anything in that field before so I can't compare but to my taste it looks like PhD grade scientific study that was simplified for general public


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Quote of one of the respondents about cheating on his wife when he describes change in his perception after that as everything around became for him vividly colorful and food tasted better.


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

    No. But topic is ever so interesting that reader will not want to drop and walk away forever from this one I think


    Any additional comments?

    The authors made a pretty simple and smart statement in the beginning that they want to just to start conversation on that particular topic and in the end it didn't sound to me like they certain about their own assumptions but reader who's interested in the topic will find useful sufficient factual base of the book

    4 of 7 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.