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The Descent of Woman: The Classic Study of Evolution Paperback – Feb 1 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Souvenir Press; Fourth Edition, Fourth edition edition (Feb. 1 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0285627007
  • ISBN-13: 978-0285627000
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2 x 19.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 113 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #227,928 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

About the Author

Elaine Morgan is the author of The Aquatic Ape.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By "prismfae" on 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By jakes@hotbot.com on June 9 1999
Format: Paperback
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. When I first heard the Aquatic Ape theory, it felt so truthful and explained so much, by Occam's Razor it immediately became my belief. But it was so disappointing to see the theory mangled into weak support for the cheesy, dated "descent of women" hypothesis of the prehistoric origins of female disenfranchisement. On the other hand, the discussion of current events in culture and feminism stands out as a balanced, mature and eerily prescient analysis, in stark contrast to the more lunatic ravings of that era. It is also remarkable as another chapter in the long history of cross-disciplinary assaults on acadame. This book is a fine example of another outsider who shifted the paradigm right out from under the curmudgeonly feet of an arrogant and insular discipline. Furthermore, Morgan's open and accessible style is a solid blow against a body of literature whose stilted prose obfuscates some of the poorest reasoning in modern science. This literary classic of amateur science should be required reading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By D. Stutzke (medivest@ameritech.net) on June 19 1998
Format: Paperback
In 1980 I bought this book thinking it was a feminist tract but once I began to read I was entranced and thoroughly enjoyed her writing. Her "new" theory of evolution began with her reading of Morris' book and his mention of Sir Alister Hardy's idea that somewhere along the line our ancestors spent a great deal of time in an aquatic environment. I had read that information in Desmond's book but unlike Ms. Morgan, I didn't put much weight on it until I read her book. She covers every facet of evolution that no one can explain by "Man the Great Hunter" theory. Her explaination of everything from our nose (so different than the other "great apes") to our power of speech (do hunters really yell while they are stalking prey?) are covered in this book. I highly recommend this book (The Descent of Woman) even if you aren't into anthropology because Elaine Morgan is a witty and thorough writer. Her next book, "The Aquatic Ape", covers the response to "The Descent of Woman" but it's out of print.I wish they would re-issue the second book (The Aquatic Ape) because in it professionals in various disciplines (geology, biology, anthropology, etc.) found places that could have been the origination of our very aquatic species.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on Feb. 25 1997
Format: Paperback
I encountered this book as a male undergraduate at Harvard University in the early 1980's majoring in Biological Anthropology. What a revelation to find an alternative hypothesis to the one's we had been studying -- an altogether different explanation for the traits that make us uniquely human. Elaine Morgan's popularization of the idea that Homo sapiens passed through a long aquatic phase and that the activities of women had a more influential role in our phylogeny than the old "man the mighty hunter of the savannah" model may have caused the single greatest epiphany in my undergraduate career. The repercussions are still echoing in my work today (an educational docu-drama we are producing with inner city students in Los Angeles called "mammals of the ocean" contains a music video inspired by this book -- explaining each human trait by comparing us with marine mammals and explaining how selection pressures operating on child bearers really affect evolution.) The book also transformed me into a "feminist" (though persistently macho) male. Read it guys..
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on June 13 2000
Format: Paperback
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 Morgan. This is the most sensible, logical explanation of how the human has evolved. As a feminist Anthropologist, I can honestly say that the androcentric attitudes toward the emergence of homonid from anthropoid are true. The "tarzanist" view of evolution is still ingrained in the minds of the general public, and as a great perpetuating machine it is taught in colleges and universities as the be-all, end-all theory of existence.
Not only do her words and theories make sense, Morgan feels no great compelling need to convolute her writing by trying to go above the heads of the general reader. Her style is ironic, satirical, and deeply humorous. Never have I enjoyed laughing at the stupidities of misogynistic academia more.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 14 1999
Format: Paperback
Dear Elaine Morgan; I read her book when it came out. I had studied anthropology, sociology, psychology, and was pretty overwhelmed with not only the extremely negative view of women, but with the fact that it did not overlap with, nor allow for my experience of my life as a girl and young woman. Although the hypotheses in this book may or may not have validity, they offer a counterpoint to a supposedly scientific and objective view that in fact is full of bias. Current sociobiology and evolutionary psychology feel so similar to the old anthropologists. I returned to reread this book when I read an excerpt from Natalie Angier's new book WOMAN, AN INTIMATE GEOGRAPHY. I still love it. Bless you, Elaine Morgan.
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