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Sex at Dawn Audiobook

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

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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

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  •  
    Vadim Maitland, FL, United States 12-25-12
    Vadim Maitland, FL, United States 12-25-12
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    "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
  •  
    peter Houten, Netherlands 04-01-12
    peter Houten, Netherlands 04-01-12 Member Since 2005
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    "Ground breaking insights"

    If you love to have your firmly held believes shaken/challenged, this is probably your kind of book. I can smell out people that have done their research and these authors fit the bill. They first explain the standard narrative with good arguments, that make you say:"Yeah, that must be right" and then they debunk them. They must have had many discussions about this with other people, before writing the book, because they know all the standard objections that pop up in your head and have a good response. I'm not totally on board with everything, but they definitely have a good point.
    I continue to be amazed about the cultural nonsense that is pumped in our brains, seemingly always resulting in a more violent society, while simultaneously giving you the idea it's getting more peaceful thanks to these same moral prophets (prepare to get Steven Pinker and Thomas Hobbs debunked). For thousands of years our presidents,priests and politicians have tried to eradicate private property, prostitution and promiscuity. All it resulted in was which hunts, massive wars, concentration camps and bloodshed and it always seems to come back.
    The only philosophical problem I saw was the idea that early foragers
    - did not have private property
    - did have compulsory sharing
    - were egalitarian
    The word sharing implies property (would you like to have some of MY apples). There is no such thing as public property, because the public does not have hands to control property. There are people who claim control of property in the name of the public, but that is the same scam as those claiming control of property in name of god.
    If they had compulsory sharing, there was someone coercing and someone being coerced, this is contradictory with egalitarian. They continue by saying this probably extended to sexual relations as well. But if you have compulsory sharing of partners, there is rape going on, which they would deny, I think.
    What they meant is that there was a strong urge to share a lot and remember who reciprocated, to increase chances of survival.
    Other than that, a great brain tickler that explains a lot of relation ship trouble going on in the world today and in a wider sense a lot of conflict and wars.

    4 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matthew Ottawa, ON, Canada 01-03-11
    Matthew Ottawa, ON, Canada 01-03-11 Member Since 2015

    Avid audiobook addict!

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    "Fascinating!"

    Really interesting, and unlike many semi-scientific books, isn't just a boring repetition of the same points 50 million times. Great read!

    8 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Porc 12-22-10
    Porc 12-22-10 Member Since 2015
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    "An Important Book with a disappointing reader"

    I just finished this book and I can say that I was deeply impressed with the scholarship, thoughtfullness and bravery that they had in writing it. I want to get more people I know to read it, just so that I can discuss whether they agree or disagree and how much.

    That being said, I didn't like the reader of this audio-book format of it at all. She seemed smarmy and annoying and she made many sections feel cliche male-bashing, which were probably nothing more than than a playful presentation of their research when it's read from a printed copy.

    11 of 21 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nora 05-23-17
    Nora 05-23-17 Member Since 2011
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    "Required listening for everyone"

    Without a doubt among the most logical looks at the is-ness of sex as we currently and potential historically experience it I've ever set my ears on.

    So good!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 05-17-17 Member Since 2014
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    "great!, but should have been read by Chris"

    It should have been read by Chris. awesome book on an awesome topic. yay sex

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    HunterG 05-13-17
    HunterG 05-13-17 Member Since 2017
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    "About as interesting as it gets for the material"
    Any additional comments?

    This is like a college science book with bits of humor. Very educating but still has it moments that are funny, but not over the top or corny. Just the right amount. Transitioning between subjects is very smooth and the narrating is great as well.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Killswitch 05-11-17
    Killswitch 05-11-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Gives History a Fresh Narrative"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    I would recommend this to people because it examines historical documentation as well as scientific studies in a new light. Whether you want to agree with it or not it's good to hear a viewpoint that juxtaposes modern culture while using facts.


    Was Sex at Dawn worth the listening time?

    Yes


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Renee' D Burwell 04-28-17 Member Since 2016
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    "One-Sided Perspective"

    This book is in essence a defense for polyamory. I think there is a spectrum of relationships from monogamy to the variations of poly. Not one should be put on a hierarchy over the other, but respected for what people choose for themselves.

    If you want a defense for polyamory without actually exploring boundaries, communication, and relationship skills choose this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christopher S. 04-20-17 Member Since 2016
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    "Great"

    Great book. An important perspective and reexaminaton of what it is to be human today. I enjoyed how the book explained the past evolution of human sexuality and the proof of it today. The book made me wish that cultural values could be shifted more quickly to coincide with biology and rationality with the goal of creating wellbeing and happiness instead of the garbage we're fed today.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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