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The Descent of Woman: The Classic Study of Evolution [Paperback]

Elaine Morgan
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Feb. 1 2001
This pioneering work, originally published in 1972, was the first to argue irrefutably the equal role of women in human evolution.

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Product Description

About the Author

Elaine Morgan is the author of The Aquatic Ape.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Text offers little if any scientific merit... July 15 2002
Format:Paperback
The book was an interesting enough read to keep in my library, but I would not consider it a legitimate argument for the Aquatic Ape Theory - nor, specifically, for the aquatically influenced evolution of the human female and the proceeding ramifications. It approaches the issue in a simplistic, unscientific manner that is not at all convincing. Keeping in mind that this book is dated (having been first published in 1972) could not save it's argument either. The Descent of Woman left just me as I was before and I'll be looking further still for writings on the subject.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars You've got to be kidding! Jan. 3 2002
Format:Paperback
The nine reviews I read here about this book are almost as far beyond belief as the book itself. Some reviewers even claim to be anthropology students! None seemed to notice that the Pliocene was actually 3 million years long, a period of climate cooling, and a period from which many homonid fossils have been found; rather than a 12 million year long heat wave from which NO homonid fossils have been found, as presented as the only scientific "fact" upon which the book's major conclusions are based. All else is selective, slanted and foggy thought with no actual evidence even pretended by the author.
This book belongs on the same shelf as "Chariot of the Gods," another interesting story of entirely possible events presented with extremely questionable evidence. I am sure that "The Descent of Woman" makes women feel better, but I am equally sure that it is not a respected ahthropological work and not, as it claims to be, "the classic study of evolution."
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4.0 out of 5 stars And Now for Something Completely Different.... Oct. 4 2002
Format:Paperback
I found Elaine Morgan's "The Descent of Woman" to provide some highly interesting concepts to think about, and I have no doubt that her outsider "alternative" view of evolution caused a considerable uproar in the scientific community when the book was first published in 1972.
At the core of Morgan's theory is the idea that women played an equal (or possibly superior) role in human evolution, and were NOT just submissive second-class childbearers while the "strong and brave hunter men" ("Tarzanists") were shaping the evolution of the species. In presenting her case, Morgan draws heavily on the Aquatic Ape Theory (first presented by Sir Alister Hardy in the 1920's) for explanations of how humans moved from the trees to walking upright, how they became hairless, the development of speech, and the physiological factors that make us radically different from other primates.
The book doesn't portray the male half of humanity in a very favorable light-- which, in itself, I don't really have a problem with. However, the tone of the writing sometimes crosses the line from scientific to slightly condescending and "preachy," and in doing so, the work perhaps loses a bit of credibility from a scientific standpoint-- almost as if the author couldn't quite decide between "Science" and "Feminism." Nonetheless, Morgan should be commended for questioning male-centric evolutionary theories put forth by a historically male-dominated scientific community, and readers should not lose sight of the fact that she is more of an "outsider" than a member of the "establishment.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Life changing book for women March 19 2002
Format:Paperback
I've spent my life working as a librarian and this is one of few books which I can say changed my life and ideas about humanity.
I read this book over 20 years ago and still quote from it. The theories presented here shifted the way I thought about men and women. Entertainingly presented, there are many serious and some funny arguments on the topic of womanly evolution of the human race.
Author Elaine Morgan impressed me so much that today I went online to buy a copy for my growing daughter only to find out it has been re-released. A must for feminists, but a hoot for us all. Bravo!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Life changing book for women March 19 2002
Format:Paperback
I've spent my life working as a librarian and this is one of few books which I can say changed my life and ideas about humanity.
I read this book over 20 years ago and still quote from it. The theories presented here shifted the way I thought about men and women. Entertainingly presented, there are many serious and some funny arguments on the topic of womanly evolution of the human race.
Author Elaine Morgan impressed me so much that today I went online to buy a copy for my growing daughter only to find out it has been re-released. A must for feminists, but a hoot for us all. Bravo!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Descent of Woman Feb. 19 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
an interesting book. She addresses some of the problems that evolutionists blow off - such as why do women have breasts, and comes up with a logical answer that has nothing to do with "because that's what the men wanted".
It takes a bit to get to the subject, but once there, she is coherent and consice, simply presenting the evidence and letting you make your own decsions about the question.
Anyone who believes in evolution and is not satisfied with 6ft Homo Erectus sttod to see over the grass while 3ft Baboon did not, they moved to the ground filled with predators to make it easier to find food, this book will get you thinking.
And it appears to have spawned an entire controversy as well as 4 sequels (maybe there're more)
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Lots of ideas / Easy style
Although even an inexpert reader such as myself can easily find holes in her arguments Morgan presents enough substance to make this a very worthwhile read, even all these years... Read more
Published 8 months ago by william d bell
5.0 out of 5 stars Awestruck!
This was just a random book that I picked up at the book shop and seriously- it blows your mind. Evolution was never something I paid that much attention to. Read more
Published on April 27 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars Evolution with logic!
This book left me feeling cheated, deeply and utterly cheated - that my Anthropology major had never mentioned, never once even alluded to the Aquatic Ape theory or to Elaine... Read more
Published on June 13 2000 by D. K. Sanders
4.0 out of 5 stars has some problems
I really haven't paid any attention to evolutionary debates and whether the Aquatic Ape Theory is accepted or debunked or whether something else has risen to takes its place. Read more
Published on Nov. 14 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars the classic work on Human Evolution
A quarter century ago, Elaine Morgan kept alive a theory of human origins which at the time was ignored by many. In hindsight, her bestseller appears prophetic. Read more
Published on Aug. 24 1999 by weyand@fas.harvard.edu
4.0 out of 5 stars This is a classic on par with "Origin of Species".
The only reason I give it four stars is because of its schizophrenic attempt to be both an anthropological study of evolution and a socio-political feminist tract. Read more
Published on June 9 1999 by jakes@hotbot.com
5.0 out of 5 stars The wonders of a well thought out book about our evolution.
A good friend of mine recomended "The Decent of Woman". Having read more than my share of Feminist books, I was expecting nothing more from this. Read more
Published on April 1 1999 by jeffkin1@aol.com
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