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Anatomy of Love: A Natural History of Mating, Marriage, and Why We Stray Paperback – Jan 3 1994

4.1 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 3rd Edition edition (Jan. 3 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0449908976
  • ISBN-13: 978-0449908976
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.5 x 21 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 358 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #152,126 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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By A Customer on May 3 2004
Format: Paperback
To be fair, if I had read this book when it was first published in 1992, I would probably have given it a better review. One of the problems of this book is that it is now 2004, and this book is showing its age. To a certain degree, this is inevitable for a book that was on the cutting edge of a new and exciting field when it was published, but this is exacerbated by the highly speculative nature of the book. Fisher takes some basic ideas from the research of the time, and then uses them to indulge in speculation (in my opinion often wildly and excessively). Whole portions of the book (for example, the chapter on Neanderthals) have been rendered largely obsolete by more recent discoveries.
I was often concerned at the lack of supporting evidence that Fisher presented for many of her assertions. In fairness, I didn't read the end notes, but there were many times when I looked for a supporting reference and none was provided, leading me to question whether what I was reading was based on any sort of sound research.
Finally, I was also disappointed in the quality of the writing. On the whole, the prose lacked elegance, and there were a few times when the author's meaning became entirely unclear, due to ambiguous sentance construction. Contrdictory statements sometimes followed one after another.
I must say that, in spite of my criticism, I did appreciate some of Fisher's ideas, and the book has certainly helped to deepen my understanding of this topic. Unfortunately, I was left with the feeling that there must be someone else out there who would better provide this fascinating material with the presentation that it deserves.
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Format: Paperback
As I biologist, I am constantly frustrated by the unscientific (and often ultra-philisophical) interpretation that goes on when considering humanity, and particularly love. This book took the extreme interest that exists about human sexuality and love, and places them in a scientific light, without necissarily demonizing or undermining the amazing feelings that go along with love; Fisher simply explains the science behind these amazingly rich and powerful feelings in an attempt to better know ourselves.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Helen Fisher's scientific approach to the study of love is admirable. However, after reading this book, I have more of a feeling of attending Gunter von Hagens' exposition "The Body World" rather than a live dissection... The comparison of the human love to the similar feelings among animals was extremely interesting to read. The explanation of this hard-to-control drive to love among humans in terms of biology and brain chemistry was also quite revealing. Nevertheless, there were more questions left open than answered. The flow of each chapter was also somewhat hard to follow as the author was jumping from one idea to the other without finishing the former, and then some thoughts were continuously repeated over and over again. The book seemed a bit too rushed to get written. In her later books ("Why we love?" and "Why him? Why her?"), Helen Fisher dramatically improved her style of writing: these later books seemed more consistent and thought through. I read "The Anatomy of Love" after I read H. Fisher's "Why we love?" and "Why him? Why her?", so I was more interested in the chapters about the reality of divorce and the nature of philandering... I also found it interesting what the feminist discourse was as opposed to the scientific facts known at that time. Overall, I liked this book, but it was not much thrilling or convincing. It was one of those books that make you think on your own and look for the answers to your questions elsewhere, which is also not bad for an old book like this.
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Format: Paperback
Dr. Fisher is to be congratulated for trying to extend our understanding of the mechanisms through which we experience the various forms of love she enumerates, and for trying to see beyond the trite social codes that are normally accepted at face value as received wisdom. But sadly her efforts are compromised by two fatal flaws. The first, and merely annoying, flaw is the inevitable requirement that a working academic must genuflect to the gods of Political Correctness. So after an interesting chapter that basically demonstrates we're unable to control ourselves when in the throes of strong emotion, she then makes the glib assertion that in fact we can and should control ourselves and never become stalkers etc. Dr. Fisher may herself believe in the moral "correctness" of this assertion but it is wholly unsupported by her work and therefore has no place in a would-be scientific book.
The far more serious flaw in the book is that Dr. Fisher, as she searches for explanations for some of the more dramatic mechanisms acting within us, seems utterly to misunderstand the rudiments of the theory of evolution. She posits all kinds of "evolutionary" forces that simply could never exist. She does not grasp that selection forces can only operate in the present and can never operate for some notional effect in the distant future. Evolution is simply not teleological, but this understanding eludes Dr. Fisher and so her "explanations" end up being silly and implausible.
So, what we have here is basically a work that provides a few tantalising glimpses into the biochemistry of emotions, yet fails to take more than the first baby-steps. It is greatly to be hoped that a more thoughtful and rigorous account will one day be written by some other researcher operating in this important area of study.
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