Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence Paperback – Nov 14 1997
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If you harbor a sneaking suspicion that men are a herd of ignoble savages, then this book is for you. Authors Wrangham and Peterson will confirm your instincts. It turns out that hyperviolent social behavior is deeply rooted in male human genes and common among our closest male primate relatives. Rapes, beatings and killings are as much a part of life among the great apes as they are among us. The authors try to conclude on some upbeat notes that ring hollow, but their science reveals much about the dark side of human nature. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Contradicting the common belief that chimpanzees in the wild are gentle creatures, Harvard anthropologist Wrangham and science writer Peterson have witnessed, since 1971, male African chimpanzees carry out rape, border raids, brutal beatings and warfare among rival territorial gangs. In a startling, beautifully written, riveting, provocative inquiry, they suggest that chimpanzee-like violence preceded and paved the way for human warfare?which would make modern humans the dazed survivors of a continuous, five-million-year habit of lethal aggression. They buttress their thesis with an examination of the ubiquitous rape among orangutans, gorilla infanticide and male-initiated violence and hyenas' territorial feuds, drawing parallels to the lethal raiding among the Yanomamo people of Brazil's Amazon forests and other so-called primitive tribes, as well as to modern "civilized" mass slaughter. In their analysis, patriotism ("stripped to its essence... male defense of the community") breeds aggression, yet, from an evolutionary standpoint, they reject the presumed inevitability of male violence and male dominance over women.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Our fellow primates are avid territorialists, argue the authors. Borders unseen by us are clearly delineated by chimpanzees, orangutans and monkeys. These defined areas are hotly defended. The other side of the coin produces invasions. Opportunism, failing resources, or just spite, drives chimpanzee groups to stealthily scout and enter another band's range. Rarely, an individual will stage a foray, but only if he thinks success likely. Too often, the raids appear to have no particular purpose. A sally may lead to injuries or even death, but the attacking troop is just as likely to withdraw to its original range with neither captives nor booty. What prompts these seemingly mindless assaults? Are they inevitable among primates?
The latter question was answered, according to the authors, with the discovery of the "pygmy chimpanzee" or bonobo. This species contrasts sharply with its common chimpanzee cousins, who live in bands beset by tension.Read more ›
DEMONIC MALES is about a whole lot more than "just" violence/aggression. It provides a general introduction to the evolutionary thinking involved with biological anthropology and evolutionary psychology. However, I do disagree with him on much of his analysis/'refutation' of critical theory. Nevertheless, the viewpoints and the evidence presented in this book are important for anyone that works or studies in the social studies and even the humanities. Human evolutionary heritage does have a major impact on our current behavior, even if it is not as simple as strict biological determinism. The claim of "male-bashing" is simply absurd.
And, finally, Richard Wrangham is great. I am currently taking his "Evolution of Human Nature" course at Harvard. He's spent a great deal of his life working at various African sites studying the chimpanzee, and in this book he takes on the bonobo (a seemingly paradoxical great-ape, since it shows little aggression). Wrangham is very knowledgeable in the field, and his engaging personality shines through his work.
Most recent customer reviews
item arrived in excellent condition. book is in perfect condition;Published 15 months ago by Anthony Martin
The worth of Mr. Wrangham's book (who I assume is responsible for its content, and Peterson for its prose) lies in chapters describing ape societies, and in his dismissal of... Read morePublished on Oct. 15 2003 by Jim
The daughter of a friend of mine is a PhD student of Wrangham's at Harvard, which is how I was introduced to this book (I borrowed their autographed copy). Read morePublished on July 15 2003 by Elizabeth Roberts-Zibbel
A clever and well written book. A must-read if you are interested in evolutionary psychology etc. Couldn't put it down. On par with "The selfish Gene" by Dawkins.Published on April 17 2003 by Elena Alperovich
Excellent and scholarly book, parts of which will annoy the politically correct no end. Takes the myth of cultural relativism, examines it in the light of known facts and data, and... Read morePublished on Feb. 14 2002 by Peter Jenkins
This exciting exploration of primate phylogeny and cross-cultural anthropology examining social behavior is what seems to me knowledge to power a path for a better human world. Read morePublished on Jan. 6 2002 by Joel Brown
This is among the best books I have read. I originally heard Wrangham on an NPR show discussing some facets of this book & quickly sought it out. Read morePublished on Oct. 17 2001 by M. Johnson
The authors of "Demonic Males" seek to show that ape violence, particularly chimpanzees, is related to human violence. Read morePublished on Oct. 15 2001 by Eric
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