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Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships [Paperback]

Christopher Ryan , Cacilda Jetha
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
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Book Description

5 Jun 2012 P.S.

Sex at Dawn challenges conventional wisdom about sex in a big way. By examining the prehistoric origins of human sexual behavior the authors are able to expose the fallacies and weaknesses of standard theories proposed by most experts. This is a provocative, entertaining, and pioneering book. I learned a lot from it and recommend it highly.” — Andrew Weil, M.D.

 “Sex at Dawn irrefutably shows that what is obvious—that human beings, both male and female, are lustful—is true, and has always been so…. The more dubious its evidentiary basis and lack of connection with current reality, the more ardently the scientific inevitability of monogamy is maintained—even as it falls away around us.” — Stanton Peele, Ph.D.

A controversial, idea-driven book that challenges everything you (think you) know about sex, monogamy, marriage, and family. In the words of Steve Taylor (The Fall, Waking From Sleep), Sex at Dawn is “a wonderfully provocative and well-written book which completely re-evaluates human sexual behavior and gets to the root of many of our social and psychological ills.”

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Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships + The Ethical Slut: A Roadmap for Relationship Pioneers
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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (5 Jun 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061707813
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061707810
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 8 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 11,201 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


“Sex At Dawn is the single most important book about human sexuality since Alfred Kinsey unleashed Sexual Behavior in the Human Male on the American public in 1948.” (Dan Savage)

“Funny, witty, and light ... Sex at Dawn is a scandal in the best sense, one that will have you reading the best parts aloud and reassessing your ideas about humanity’s basic urges well after the book is done.” (Newsweek)

“Sex At Dawn challenges conventional wisdom about sex in a big way... This is a provocative, entertaining, and pioneering book. I learned a lot from it and recommend it highly.” (Andrew Weil, M.D., author of Healthy Aging)

“Sex At Dawn is a provocative and engaging synthesis... that has the added benefit of being a joy to read.... A book sure to generate discussion, and one likely to produce more than a few difficult conversations with family marriage counselors.” (Eric Michael Johnson, Seed Magazine)

“You clearly have an exciting book on your hands, whether people agree with it or not: these are issues that will need debating over and over before we will arrive at a resolution.” (Frans de Waal, author of The Age of Empathy)

“A wonderfully provocative and well-written book which completely re-evaluates human sexual behaviour and gets to the root of many of our social and psychological ills.” (Steve Taylor, author of The Fall and Waking From Sleep)

“One of the most original books I’ve read in years, Sex at Dawn manages to be both enormously erudite and wildly entertaining—even, frequently, hilarious. . . . A must-read for anyone interested in where our sexual impulses come from.” (Tony Perrottet, author of Napoleon's Privates)

“This paradigm-shifting book is a thoroughly original discussion of the origins and nature of human sexuality... These authors have a gift for making complex material reader-friendly, filling each chapter with humor and passion as well as dozens of revolutionary insights.” (Stanley Krippner, Ph.D.)

“Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha have written the essential corrective to the evolutionary psychology literature...” (Stanton Peele, Ph.D.)

From the Back Cover

In this controversial, thought-provoking, and brilliant book, renegade thinkers Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá debunk almost everything we “know” about sex, weaving together convergent, frequently overlooked evidence from anthropology, archaeology, primatology, anatomy, and psychosexuality to show how far from human nature monogamy really is. In Sex at Dawn, the authors expose the ancient roots of human sexuality while pointing toward a more optimistic future illuminated by our innate capacities for love, cooperation, and generosity.

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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Happily ever after - and after that? 24 Mar 2011
I bought this book to try and understand why personal relationships are in such a crisis in our society. Whilst it's clearly - and unashamedly - written with an agenda in mind, it is very well researched and fully embedded in academic anthropology, containing many references to other academic publications.

Don't let that comment make you think it's a dusty publication, though. Anything but; the writing is lively, eminently readable and witty throughout. I enjoyed it as a read as such, but beyond that it put forward the alternative view to what the authors call the "standard narrative" of how intimate relationships work, very successfully. I found many answers and insights that as well as satisfying my curiosity, enable me to understand my own feelings and behaviours better than I did before I read the book. I shall be recommending it to friends and may even buy a few more copies to send to a few people close to me.

Be clear, this book explores, sets out and justifies views on attitudes and societal 'givens' that will challenge many people who ascribe to conventional viewpoints about intimate relationships and sexual behaviors. If you don't want these views and values challenged - don't read this book. On the other hand, if you are beginning to wonder why things just don't fit into the "standard narrative" for you - order a copy NOW. Standard wisdom is not necessarily right.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
i thought this would help me understand sex and dating....instead it brought insight to my life!, the first few chapters are tough but its so incredibly interesting thought provoking and by the end its like your heads been turned round and suddenly your looking at everybody else who is left upside down.......ive bought several copies for friends and family, people need to read this, for there own piece of mind! really its like hearing something which suddenly makes sense of everything around you, and has given me such piece of mind and understanding. great advances have been made in anthropological study and of human society and when you hear it...its clear as day why people are so confused and oppressed by recent social constructs which serve only to make people unhappy. please read this book and recommend it to everyone you know too!
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Desparately Seeking Bonobo 31 Aug 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Once in a while a book comes a long and hits you in the soft bits. "Sex at Dawn" is a non-fiction book, but as enrapturing as any page turner. Despite the humour aimed at sexual double standards, an erotic sheen emanates from its pages.

So what does this book try to establish? 1. Monogamy and marriage are not necessarily the same 2. That humans' DNA and physical traits do not predispose them to monogamy 3. That hunter gather communities were peaceful and not marred by the squabble over resources and women that we see amongst "civilised" peoples.

"Sex at Dawn" succeeds with one and two. Monogamy and marriage are not the same. How one defines fidelity is very much how one person and their spouse/mate see it to be. Sex has both a functional purpose as well as a romantic purpose and a lustful purpose. Balancing all of these can be hell. Especially when one takes in to consideration statement 2: That humans are not monogamous gibbons or swans (swans aren't really that noble). Humans are horny chimps and bonobos in suits.

Three however - hum. To claim the rather anachro-anarchistic view that private property/agriculture creates wars, often at the expense of hunter/gatherers is problematic, but not without some foundation. It's an argument in need a book of its own. I felt the authors were stretching things a little here. But the book is so funny, well written and addictive that I was quick to forgive. It's also a more sensible view that the ridiculous "killer ape gene" theory bandied about, with its smacks of reactionary genetic determinism.

I would recommend reading this book to any adult of the Western world. It has the potential to spark something off.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing 11 July 2012
Well written, easily understood and brilliantly researched. Helps to make sense of so much of our biology and why we evolved the way we have physically; more importantly it explains a lot about human behaviour. It also helps to give us a guide on how we can continue to evolve socially in our relationships by going with, rather than against, our evolutionary history.

Highly recommend it.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I definitely felt the penny drop a few times 6 May 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
For someone who considers themselves an expert on relationships(based on experience and study), This book certainly illuminated a few areas where i knew the "standard narrative" just did not make any sense... They do now.
It really is that simple...
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I am not the sort of person ... 20 Aug 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
... who makes a habit of indulging in the type of review upon which I am about to embark. But there comes a point - at least one - in everyone's life where some of the personal tenets by which one has hitherto existed are obliged to take second place to a stronger force. And that stronger force is reverence. For the first time in my life. A reverence of such utter clarity and profundity that I fair wept at the words contained within this book's pages.

I will try not to overstate things. I realise that the authors must be accustomed to correspondence of this type and I detest sycophancy (although please let me assure you that nothing I say should be regarded as being anywhere near to such). But I must congratulate them; they need congratulating - that is not meant to sound patronising; they DESERVE congratulations. The wisdom, intelligence and downright common sense behind their writing shine through every page. They might be humble and 'scientific' enough not to state blindly that everything they say is correct but I am not subject to the same barriers and I can tell you that it ALL makes perfect sense and IS correct.

And above all, they have been true to Nature. We, as a species, are becoming more and more divorced from the rawness - the beauty - of Nature. And we are suffering tremendously as a result. And increasingly so. It was Jung who wrote, “Too much of the animal distorts the civilised man; too much civilisation makes sick animals.” Perfectly put. How true. And that is what we are becoming: sick animals. “Naturam expellas furca, tamen usque recurret” – a principle with which I KNOW the authors would heartily concur.

Their book has given me hope. Although I have ALWAYS had great belief in my own normality (i.e.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars One Sided Headline Grabbing..But very interesting
Ok, so this book has a couple of obvious holes in its underlying theory. It is totally one sided and very selective in its use of the available evidence, but overall its a well... Read more
Published 14 days ago by J. N. Dorne
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book!!!
As a pro-revolutionary I loved this book! Yes of course humanity doesn't fit into any book and so this one leaves out a couple of things. Read more
Published 16 days ago by Robert D.B.
5.0 out of 5 stars A new angle on an interesting subject.
I was already familiar with a lot of the popular anthropology books mentioned and the arguments that are considered in the book. Read more
Published 1 month ago by whitefalcon
5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone needs to read this. GAME CHANGER!
Absolutely fantastic book. This books turns the standard narrative on its head and really makes life make sense for the first time. Paradigm changer
Published 2 months ago by Ciaran O'Regan
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read!
Authors Chris Ryan and Cacilda Jetha prove what we all suspect - humans are not monogamous. The book shows scientific facts (no assumptions) researched thoroughly. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Mr. Ml Ciszewski
5.0 out of 5 stars Well researched
A must read. Informative and witty. A study of the origins and nature of our sexuality. This book, taken seriously, could help the world become a better place
Published 4 months ago by Pen Name
5.0 out of 5 stars Sex... It's All Dawned Upon Me Now!
In this world in the perpetual contest between questions and answers it is the 'questions' that have clearly taken the lead; but Christopher Ryan, in this highly enlightening (and... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Julian Sturrock
3.0 out of 5 stars readable
again - as in my review for mating in captivity, there are so many avenues not explored and ignored. Read more
Published 8 months ago by popsicle
5.0 out of 5 stars Our society is clearly in change - which way will we go? Shorter...
This book is intriguing. it is worth reading even if you disagree or believe that sometimes the author may exaggerate small examples and extrapolates them to more frequent... Read more
Published 11 months ago by AR69
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent - both thoroughly researched and entertaining
This one is a paradigm changer.
Everyone should read this book - food for thought in every chapter, and an interesting, entertaining tone also. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Michael Garcia
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