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The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature

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Home » Books » Science » Biology » Evolutionary Theory » Human

The Red Queen

Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature

By Matt Ridley

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Format: Paperback, 416 pages, 2nd Edition
Published In: United States, 01 April 2003
Referring to Lewis Carroll's Red Queen from Through the Looking-Glass, a character who has to keep running to stay in the same place, Matt Ridley demonstrates why sex is humanity's best strategy for outwitting its constantly mutating internal predators. The Red Queen answers dozens of other riddles of human nature and culture -- including why men propose marriage, the method behind our maddening notions of beauty, and the disquieting fact that a woman is more likely to conceive a child by an adulterous lover than by her husband. Brilliantly written, The Red Queen offers an extraordinary new way of interpreting the human condition and how it has evolved.

EAN: 9780060556570
ISBN: 0060556579
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Dimensions: 20.35 x 13.51 x 2.54 centimetres (0.32 kg)
Age Range: 15+ years
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4 review(s)
All Reviews
Varisa on
Men and women have different minds - says Matt Ridley in one of the central chapters of his book-. The differences are the direct result of evolution. Womens minds (and bodies, as he states in a previous pharagraph) evolved to suit the demands of beraring and rearing children and of gathering plant and food. Mens minds (and bodies) evolved to suit the demands of rising in a male hierarchy, fighting over women and providing meat to a family".

To arrive to this and other conclusions, Ridley goes a long and difficult way through biology, genetics and continents, starting with a basic question: why is there sex at all? After all, many species reproduce without it. The first three or four chapters of "The Red Queen" may be a little onerous, but apparently they are necessary to support the last ones.

This is a book about evolution with a focus on human sexuality and the human mind. Everything on humans - our bodies, our behavior towards the opposite sex, even our minds and social rules - is a direct result of a process called sexual selection that allows the reproduction of the fittest, therefore transmiting their genes to the next generations.

When answering why there is sex at all and how men and womens bodies and minds evolved in the last million years, we come to many uncomfortable truths about adultery, rape, incest and life. Why do more rich men marry beautiful women and not the other way around? Why have the attempts to sell pornogrphy to women and romantic novels to men failed? And above all this: why did evolution produce different minds in men a women?

Take all of the above and pack it with a red cover, and you have one of the most amazing readings of the year.
Samantha on
Matt Ridley's 'The Red Queen' is an interesting and thought provoking book, and well worth a read if you are interested in human evolution and biology. I don't necessarily agree with everything he says, but many of his arguments are convincing and the evidence he presents is thorough. I enjoyed reading this book, though probably would not go back for a second read of it, and would recommend it to anyone interested in evolution.
Luis on
A well presented and wit book. In my opinion, the first few chapters were a little bit too technical in genetics and biology, but still able to read.
Matt Ridley's "the red queen" is full of wit parallelisms between the animal world and the one of humans.
I also don't agree with him 100 % but it gives another interesting scientific side of the dice in the study of human evolution.
Chapter 7 "Monogamy and the nature of Women" is just brilliant
Amanda on
Despite the fact that I had to read this for my university class, I actually found it to be a wonderful and thought provoking book.

people dont realise that the details of evolution is actually a very recent discovery in scientific history and this book goes into the details of those discoveries, answering important questions such as "WHY???? why do humans have sex??" (it's not as obvious as you might think)

It's quite an easy read (especially after reading the origin of species!!) and a must for anyone who is interested in or is taking classes about evolution. It doesn't dumm it down but it's not in a format that the average joe couldn't understand either. just a good read.

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