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Publisher's Summary

Maternal instinct - the all-consuming, utterly selfless love that mothers lavish on their children - has long been assumed to be an innate, indeed defining element of a woman's nature. But is it?

In this provocative, groundbreaking audiobook, renowned anthropologist (and mother) Sarah Blaffer Hrdy shares a radical new vision of motherhood and its crucial role in human evolution. Hrdy strips away stereotypes and gender-biased myths to demonstrate that traditional views of maternal behavior are essentially wishful thinking codified as objective observation. As Hrdy argues, far from being "selfless," successful primate mothers have always combined nurturing with ambition, mother love with sexual love, ambivalence with devotion.

In fact all mothers, in the struggle to guarantee both their own survival and that of their offspring, deal nimbly with competing demands and conflicting strategies. In her nuanced, stunningly original interpretation of the relationships between mothers and fathers, mothers and babies, and mothers and their social groups, Hrdy offers not only a revolutionary new meaning to motherhood but an important new understanding of human evolution. Written with grace and clarity, suffused with the wisdom of a long and distinguished career, Mother Nature is a profound contribution to our understanding of who we are as a species - and why we have become this way.

©1999 Sarah Blaffer Hrdy (P)2014 Audible Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Some experts argue that mothers learn to love their children, others that they are genetically programmed to do so. Refreshingly, anthropologist Hrdy charts a middle course, showing (not surprisingly) that things aren't so simple. She makes her points by drawing on decades of fieldwork, presented in a clear and lively fashion." (Library Journal)
"Hrdy presents her argument in an informed and thoughtful manner, weaving historical and literary anecdotes with biological and psychological studies. A captivating and thought-provoking study." (Booklist)
"An extraordinary body of scholarship...this is a breathtaking feat of scholarship that will have enduring value as an encyclopedic source of hard data and inspired speculation." (Kirkus Reviews)

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Love this book. However, I found the narration excruciatingly flat. Could barely concentrate on the material & ended up switching to reading a hard copy.

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  • Paula Wright
  • 10-07-15

Hrdy's gift

This book. like Mothers and Others, is a gift to us all. The story of motherhood unfettered by ideology,. Essential (but never essentialist) reading for true scholars of human nature.