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Fatherhood: Evolution and Human Paternal Behavior Hardcover – May 1 2010

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (May 1 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674048695
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674048690
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 2.5 x 23.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 590 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,288,843 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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By A. Volk #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWER on Aug. 4 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book claims that it aims itself towards a general audience, rather than towards an academic audience. They also claim that they aren't offering advice so much as an explanation for why fathers parent the way that they do. Generally speaking, I find that those two claims are hard to reconcile. In my experience, non-academic fathers generally want a book that offers them practical advice, while academics want lots of cutting-edge science written in scientific lingo. So in that regard, it's hard to evaluate this book.

As an academic exercise, it's pretty good. Gray and Anderson are both professors who study fatherhood from a biological/evolutionary perspective. The book covers a wide range of topics, from hormones, to paternity, to cross-cultural models of parenting. In general, I found that it was a pretty good introduction to the topic. I found that the book was at its best when focusing on each author's specialty (paternity-Anderson, hormones-Gray). Experts in the field will probably find a few bits of information in here that they didn't know before, as it's relatively comprehensive and current. That said, I found that there were some minor errors or discrepancies in the authors' data.

The writing in the book is not aimed at too high of an audience, but again, it's perhaps not practical enough to be of great use for the average reader. As a father, it was hard to take home specific suggestions based on the text without already knowing the theory. I would have liked to have seen the chapter on the effects of fathers on their children expanded, as this is really what matters most for fathers, researchers, and society in general. The mechanisms of fatherhood are important, but really, it's what fathers do for their children that matters most to most people.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Are you ready to start a Ph.D. in the science of fatherhood? Jan. 8 2011
By Emre Sevinc - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm an expectant father and read this book hoping to learn more about what it means to be a father. This is definitely not one of the popular books which assumes the role of an experienced teacher / coach and tell you how to be a good father, what to care about, how to raise your child, how to support your wife etc. So if you are looking for friendly advice with occasional humor, lots of personal anecdotes with medical advice scattered in between you'd better look at other popular books (such as The Expectant Father: Facts, Tips, and Advice for Dads-to-Be (New Father Series)). However if you are interested in what exists (in contrast to what should) in the world of fatherhood, then this is probably the best resource as of now. The authors describe many aspects related to fatherhood and they provide lots of examples and data from various cultures as well as from our genetic relatives such as orangutans, chimpanzees, bonobos and birds. You'll find many scientific explanations of what fathers in various cultures do, and why they do it, especially in terms of evolutionary mechanisms. I'm glad that the authors did not fail to strike a good balance between scientific writing and popular one; they did not assume that I was an expert in anthropology or fatherhood studies but nevertheless expected attention and careful reading from me (which I happily did for most of the chapters). Personally I found the last few chapters very informative in which they talk about how caring for his baby changes the brain of a father, affects the hormonal system and creates both benefits and risks for health. Therein lies some important insights for the curious reader / father, especially related to cross-cultural variations in short-term and long-term affects of fatherhood. I think this book will be an important reference in my library to which I'll return as I grow old as a father. (And it already started to help me understand the behaviors of some fathers that I observe in my social circle which I find to be another positive point for the book.)
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Great Book! April 20 2010
By Theodore S. Ransaw - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Fatherhood: Evolution and Human Paternal Behavior is one of the best books of its type that I have read so far. It is really impressive how much time the authors put into making it as easy to read as it is academic. I especially liked the fact that fathering elements of culture were interwoven throughout. I am considering adopting it as a class textbook for the Afro American Masculinity course I teach. This book is a must read for fathers, those who want to be fathers and anyone else who wants to know more about the untold story/journey of being a father.
Fatherhood considered Feb. 13 2014
By christopher - Published on
Format: Paperback
An evolutionary anthropological approach to the subject of fatherhood. Being clearly written and structured it is easily accessible to the lay reader. On the basis of many referenced studies in the fields of anthropology, sociology along with certain primatological, biological and neuroscientific studies many interesting conclusions are cautiously drawn, the cross-cultural comparisons being especially interesting and useful . There is, however, in my view not much consideration given to the influence of the father on the mental and spiritual development of the younger child, for this one would seemingly have to consult other works. Aspects of the marriage relationship and the role of stepfathers are extensively discussed, matters of child abuse/incest less so (although concerning this, it is shown that stepfathers are, relative to biological fathers, a risk factor). The book ends with a discussion of recent Western cultural developments, leaving it to the reader to decide on the basis of what he has read how positive this all is.

For further discussion and a summary of the book's content per chapter, please see the book review in 'Evolutionary Psychology' from 2010.

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