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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; 1 edition (Oct. 10 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743260163
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743260169
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.5 x 21.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 227 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #17,075 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. There are many things one might expect to find within the covers of a collection of essays by a Stanford professor of biology and neurology: a rich understanding of the complexities of human and animal life; a sensitivity to the relationship between our biological nature and our environmental context; a humility in the face of still-to-be-understood facets of the human condition. All these are in Sapolsky's new collection, along with something one might not expect: wry, witty prose that reads like the unexpected love child of a merger between Popular Science and GQ, written by an author who could be as much at home holding court at the local pub as he is in a university lab. In this collection (the majority of pieces ran in Discover, others in Men's Health, the New Yorker and Scientific American), Sapolsky ranges wherever his formidable curiosity leads, from genetic determinism as seen through the eyes of People magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People" to the reasons why crotchety old people are neurologically disinclined to like whatever passes for music among young people nowadays. Each essay brings its own unexpected delight, brief enough that you can dip a toe in, yet insightful enough to encourage you to pursue the topic further (and Sapolsky helpfully appends to each essay a list of suggested further readings). (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"A combination of Oliver Sacks and David Foster Wallace. . . . Sapolsky is that professor whose classes were impossible to get into, the courses where the students had an infuriatingly good time while they were learning, the ones where the students were inspired to become scientists." (Los Angeles Times)

"A hit. . . . Sapolsky lets his obsessive curiosity wander amiably . . . Chases after answers to such puzzles with jovial abandon." (New York Times Book Review)

"The prose is perfectly pitched: Sapolsky writes in a jocular, entertaining style without ever pandering to the presumed ignorance of his readers. " (The Guardian (London))

"Sapolsky ranges wherever his formidable curiosity leads . . . Each essay brings its own unexpected delight . . ." (Publisher's Weekly (starred review))

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on March 25 2006
Format: Hardcover
It's easy to tack the disparaging label "pop science" to this book. That would be misleading and counterproductive. What, after all, is "popular science" but science for non-scientists. From a broader perspective this book is informative, enlightening and ably suited for its intended task. Among other virtues, this book is a well-written account of what too many of us believe is valid science. It then discloses where we are mistaken in that belief and provides corrections. In his vividly rendered chapters, Sapolsky offers numerous challenges to "established" thinking. The challenges are often raw and forceful, but they must be understood fully.
A primate researcher, the author has spent many years studying baboon behaviour. Those who fear comparison with other primates may be uncomfortable with Sapolsky's conclusions. The material he draws upon for support, however, shows how universal many of our own behaviours are among our close relatives. In this book, he takes up three themes - why searching for "a gene for" any specific behaviour or illness is doomed to failure; what the body contributes to our personality; and what society contributes in determining our "selves". Each section is preceded by an introductory essay, explaining the significance of the topics discussed.
In the first section he severely condemns those who want to lock behaviour to genetics. That's an admirable end, but the selections weighed in his judgement are nearly all media accounts. Simplifying human behaviour issues sells magazines and newspapers, and his references to "those scientists" who appear to have advocated "nature over nurture" vapourise when you look for them in the text.
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Format: Paperback
I really enjoyed reading Monkeyluv. It answers many questions that we may ask ourselves. The delivery time was a bit long but I did get the book in it's new form. So I am very satisfied with my purchase.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 36 reviews
66 of 70 people found the following review helpful
You dropped your hippocampus Dec 8 2005
By Justin Mclaughlin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Monkeyluv is worth reading for seven reasons. The first (1) is that you will finally understand how genes work. The first third of the book is all about dispelling the nature vs nurture debate. It's their interaction, stupid! Once you get the picture on genes, there are some other really interesting reasons to read this book. Reasons two through seven: (2) the articles are on subjects as vast and interesting as Münchhausen by Proxy (where a mother intentionally makes her child ill, like the Sixth Sense), aging, and brain controlling parasites. (3) All the articles appeared before in general-reader publications, like Discovery Magazine, so a non-scientist can understand the ideas. (4) The author does a superb job of applying his neurobiology lens (biology of human brains) to a variety of interesting topics. (5) The reader can zip through this book over a weekend and pick up some wow-I-didn't-know-thats to impress his or her friends, neighbors, and colleagues. (6) The essays are concise and (7) sprinkled with popular humor, which remain from their magazine days.
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
Great book about your brain and your body in the world Aug. 27 2006
By Stacey M Jones - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I absolutely LOVED this book! I read it very quickly and had trouble putting it down. It is fascinating, educational, funny, enjoyable and well written about complex issues.

Sapolsky, who is the author of A Primate's Memoir, The Trouble with Testosterone and Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers, is a professor of biology and neurology at Stanford and a recipient of a MacArthur "genius" grant. I found his genius not only to be in his insight and ability to frame questions and pursue their answers, but also to be able to write about it in a way that is accessible to a "nongenius."

This book is a collection of previously published essays that are updated for this edition (the updates include notes for further reading and on source materials). Sapolsky divides the book into three parts ("Genes and Who We Are," "Our Bodies and Who We Are" and "Society and Who We Are") and introduces each section with cogent current thinking on the issues addressed. For example, to introduce the first section, Sapolsky writes about how the nature-nurture argument is a red herring; genes contribute to personality/behavior when the environment interacts with them in ways conducive to gene-induced behavior! For example, in "Of Mice and (Hu)men Genes," Sapolsky writes about genes that may indicate a proclivity for depression, but only in certain environments, and summarizes that the reader should be wary of simple expanations. (And, he asserts, as humans we may have more responsibility to create positive environments that interact benignly with risky genes than to understand which genes cause what.) In the second section's "Why are Dreams Dreamlike?" Sapolsky illustrates how answering some questions about how the brain and psyche function just brings up other, deeper questions.

Sapolsky's illustrations of his points are fascinating and enlightening (and often funny!). In "The Genetic War Between Men and Women," he writes about how the genes from the father of a species have one goal ("greater, faster, more expensive growth") while genes from the mother have another ("countering that exuberance"). The success comes in nature's ability to balance these goals: "The placenta is ... the scene of a pitched battle, with paternally derived genes pushing [the placenta] to invade more aggressively while maternally derived genes try to hold it back." He lists other examples of this balance in humans and other species. This view of nature and how reproduction is nurtured fascinated me and helped me to see things in a new way.

Sapolsky's topics are wide ranging, and the book reminded me a bit of Freakonomics in its tendency to turn its problem-solving focus on whatever issue crossed its path. For example, in the final section, he writes about the differences between the

religions of desert peoples and the religions of tropical peoples -- the former tend to have a single god with miltaristic iterations and few rights for women while the latter tend toward pantheism and matrilocal marital residence. "Most evidence suggests that the rain-forest mind-set is more of a hothouse attribute, less hardy when uprooted." I guess that's evident, but Sapolsky's writings on the topic, again, gave me a new way to look at something I hadn't considered before. In this book, he addresses game theory, gene mapping, musical tastes, gender-communication issues and neurogenesis with wit, clarity and insight.

I recommend this book if you're the least bit curious about your brain, your body, the natural world and the society in which you live.
42 of 46 people found the following review helpful
If you want someone to make you think..... Jan. 9 2006
By Dr. Richard G. Petty - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Like most people, I am inundated with new books and papers that need my attention.

But I always make the time to read anything that Sapolsky writes. This book is a collection of essays that show once again, that we have an extraordinarily brilliant iconoclast in our midst. Time and again he demonstrates that he is not afraid to say when he does not know something, but that he also uncommonly good at coming up with new questions and new solutions.

I suggest reading this at the rate of a chapter a day, and meditating on what you have learned: you will not regret it!

The whole thing is witty, unconventional and brilliant!
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Opens many new doors [while closing a few] March 25 2006
By Stephen A. Haines - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
It's easy to tack the disparaging label "pop science" to this book. That would be misleading and counterproductive. What, after all, is "popular science" but science for non-scientists. From a broader perspective this book is informative, enlightening and ably suited for its intended task. Among other virtues, this book is a well-written account of what too many of us believe is valid science. It then discloses where we are mistaken in that belief and provides corrections. In his vividly rendered chapters, Sapolsky offers numerous challenges to "established" thinking. The challenges are often raw and forceful, but they must be understood fully.

A primate researcher, the author has spent many years studying baboon behaviour. Those who fear comparison with other primates may be uncomfortable with Sapolsky's conclusions. The material he draws upon for support, however, shows how universal many of our own behaviours are among our close relatives. In this book, he takes up three themes - why searching for "a gene for" any specific behaviour or illness is doomed to failure; what the body contributes to our personality; and what society contributes in determining our "selves". Each section is preceded by an introductory essay, explaining the significance of the topics discussed.

In the first section he severely condemns those who want to lock behaviour to genetics. That's an admirable end, but the selections weighed in his judgement are nearly all media accounts. Simplifying human behaviour issues sells magazines and newspapers, and his references to "those scientists" who appear to have advocated "nature over nurture" vapourise when you look for them in the text. Still, the elmination of "gene centrism" is an admirable ambition. That is what the public too often sees and the illusion needs expulsion from the collective public consciousness. He reminds us that many "genetic" drives are environmentally triggered. Whatever the rules are genes function under, they aren't rigid ones. Environment contributes, often in a major way.

In the second section, Sapolsky ranges over body-behaviour issues. From the "Twinky Defence" to definitions of dreaming, he explores how the body and brain relate to influence the mind. Emotions result from the cascades of hormones flowing through our bodies. The brain triggers many of these, but the body sends messages to the brain using that chemical medium. While all this may leave the impression that we are almost helpless observers of what these molecular signals drive us to do, the author reminds us that the "big" part of the brain, the frontal cortex, grants us a level of control denied most other animals.

Finally, we are treated to an overview of our relation to the departed. Why is there such an intense drive in humans to deal with the dead? That is most ardently expressed when the body is missing. There are bizarre cases noted here, not the least of which is story of the rituals imposed when the US Navy retrieved the bodies of drowned Japanese fishermen. Yet more intriguing are the cases of mothers finding ways to have their children hospitalised. Each time the mother visited a recovering child, there was a relapse.

That Sapolsky's style is brisk, even fervent at times, shouldn't obscure the fact that there's much in here most of us need to know. When you and your spouse argue, who concedes first? Why is this so? Daily life situations are biologically examined, without the rhetoric that might turn this into a campaign document. There is a message: that we need to learn more about what provides our emotional makeup, from domestic disputes to "over-mothering". Read this and find out what. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
mOnky LoVe April 26 2012
By Alejandro Trujillo PHD - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Monkey Luv by Robert M. Sapolsky is a great book to pick up and read. In my opinion, the content of this book was easy to comprehend because you do not need to be a neuroscientist in order to understand it. Sapolsky is such a great writer that he makes reading about the brain and behavior easy. He explains how our wonderful minds work and the factors that really affect who we are. Sapolsky includes other publications and examples in his writing, so that anyone can understand what he is talking about. He posts notes and his sources at the end of each chapter for reference and further reading.
Sapolsky writes that genes do not fully define who we are but that environment greatly shapes who we are. Genes produce proteins vital for the brain to function properly. They do not produce behavior but rather tendencies to respond to the environment in certain ways. He explains to us that there isn't a battle between nature and nurture, but that they both work together to make us unique.
Sapolsky explains to us that particular genes will produce a particular protein in different environments. Cold temperatures can make animals activate a gene to produce proteins to act differently. It will make some animals such as bears hibernate when winter is upon them and others might fly south for the winter or react in different ways. The smallest thing in life can affect us a lot.
"Antlers of Clay" is a short passage of Monkey Love where Sapolsky explains what animals look for in mates. He explains that women are more likely to look for a man who is economically established then struggling financial. Women want a bread winner. Sapolsky did not create this theory. David Buss of the University of Texas at Austin surveyed more than ten thousand people from thirty-seven different countries. In every society that Buss examined he noticed that women were interested particularly in men that could support them financially. When women are happy with their mates, they tend to have healthier offspring. Sapolsky states that looks can sometimes mean good genes but what makes the difference is the effort that a female puts into the well-being of her offspring. When women think that they found the perfect mate, their bodies synthesizes more growth hormones and will go the extra mile to take care of their offspring.
Sapolsky throughout his book repeatedly emphasis that environment has a big influence on all living organisms. Environment consists of the surroundings or conditions an animal lives in. Culture is also a large part of our environment and how we live. It determines the type of medical attention we receive, the food we eat, how we earn our bread, and essentially who we are. Not everybody is affected by environment the same way. A person's socioeconomic status is determined by a person's income education and occupation. In our modern world it can determine if you live or die. The poor have the lowest socioeconomic status with very little income and education. Their health tends to be worse than people who are in a higher socioeconomic class. Having money does not make you immune to disease; this just means you have the ability to buy prevention and treatments for illness. The poor tend to have poor health because of their ignorance; people with very little education might not know the horrible effects of smoking.
Sapolsky is really fascinated with the effect that parents have on their children's development. Parents can help their children grow, but when dose helping become a hindrance. Sapolsky feels that parents should have control over their children, but should also let them branch out into the world. There are parents who take there parental control to an extreme. There are parents that belong to cretin religions that reject the use of medicine for healing and use a prayer instead. Sapolsky also feels that the Amish indirectly hurt their children by not allowing them to go to high school with non-Amish classmates in fear that they might want change. Parents can no longer let a child die because they refuse medical care, but the Amish can leave their children unprepared and uneducated. What is the difference? According to Sapolsky Amish children are sheltered from the real world being forced into the same style of life as their parents. What a parent can and can't do with his child is a huge debate today in our country.
Bugs in the brain is my favorite passage of Monkey Luv Sapolsky say that he attends neuroscience conventions from time to time and its quite easy for him to become overwhelmed. "There are thousands of exhibits and posters but, at the end of the day we still don't know much about the brain". Sapolsky tries to explain that viruses and bacteria's can alter our brain functions. Rabies for example is a type of virus that can get into the brain and make its host aggressive. Rabies can drive a subject to bite someone, passing the virus on threw saliva. Sapolsky also presented us with Toxoplasma which is secreted by cats. When rodents ingest it, their fear of cats disappears and they become attracted to cats. Toxoplasma only attracts a rodent too cats but doesn't affect anything else in their daily life. Toxoplasma blows Sapolsky mind and runs circles around neuroscientist.
I really enjoyed Monkey Luv by Robert M. Sapolsky; his book was really fun to read. Sapolsky is such a witty character and the tone in which he tells the story simply captivates me. I personally like how he puts his and other researcher's thoughts together without confusing the reader. Sapolsky kept me hooked with all the small stories throughout the book. It felt like he knew that I have a short attention span. I thought his writing style was innovative. Sapolsky is a very intelligent man yet really down to earth, using words the average Joe can understand. Monkey luv is a must read, if you what to know how our minds works and changes every day.


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