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Sperm Wars: Infidelity, Sexual Conflict, and Other Bedroom Battles Paperback – Special Edition, 13 Dec 2005

4.2 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; Revised edition (13 Dec. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1560258489
  • ISBN-13: 978-1560258483
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 12.7 x 19 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 286,411 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

For video interviews and a wider-ranging biography, to read both praise for and criticism of his books, and to see the controversies they have triggered, visit www.robin-baker.com.

Dr Robin Baker was born in Wiltshire, England in 1944, and grew up in the small village of Manningford Bruce in the Vale of Pewsey. The tiny 2-room school he attended had fewer than 30 pupils, with all the under 7s taught in one room and all the 7-11 year olds in the other. Between the ages of 11 and 18 he attended the nearby Marlborough Grammar School where coincidentally, 30 years earlier, the author William Golding had also been educated; all later pupils were expected to be very familiar with Golding's classic book Lord of the Flies.

After obtaining a First Class Honours degree in Zoology, then a PhD, at the University of Bristol, Robin Baker lectured in Zoology at the Universities of first Newcastle-upon-Tyne and then Manchester where, in 1981, he became Reader in Zoology in the School of Biological Sciences. In 1996 he left academic life to concentrate on his career in writing and broadcasting.

He has published over one hundred scientific papers and many books. These include the international bestseller SPERM WARS which was based on his own lab's original research on human sexuality and which has so far been translated into 23 languages. His work and ideas on the evolution of human behaviour have been featured in many television programmes around the world.

His first novel PRIMAL - described by many as an adult LORD OF THE FLIES - was published in the UK and USA in 2009. In 2010-11 it will also be published in translation in Holland, Israel, France, Brazil and the Czech Republic.

Since 2002 he has lived in the foothills of the Spanish Sierras with his partner, the writer Elizabeth Oram, and their family. He has six children.

Product Description

About the Author

Robin Baker is a bestselling author in the field of sexual biology. From 1980-96 he was Reader in Zoology in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Manchester, and he has over a hundred scientific papers and magazine articles to his name. His work and ideas on the evolution of human behavior have been featured in many television and radio programs around the world.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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'Sperm Wars' is the type of book to give sociobiology a bad name. Of course, to many social scientists, rightly or wrongly, sociobiology already has a bad name. This is why the term is now rarely used and euphemisms such as behavioural ecology and evolutionary psychology were invented.

[I use the term sociobiology rather than the more fashionable terms evolutionary psychology and human behavioural ecology advisedly, because many of Baker's claims actually deal with physiology rather than psychology or behaviour and therefore, strictly speaking, fall outside the remit of behavioural ecology and psychology.]

Among the most familiar of the many charges levelled against evolutionary psychology are the claims, firstly, that evolutionary psychologists spin speculative untested (or even inherently untestable) 'just-so' stories, and, secondly, that evolutionary psychologists are so-called 'ultra-Darwinians' or 'Darwinian fundamentalists' who claim that every human trait is necessarily an adaptation. In general, these charges have little merit.

However, Sperm Wars, is the exception that proves the rule. For once, both these familiar charges have some merit.

In respect of virtually all of Baker's claims, an alternative non-adaptive explanation in which the characteristic in question is viewed as a by-product of more general purpose adaptations rather than itself adaptive is available and in some cases at least as plausible as Baker's own account.
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2 Comments 26 of 29 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
Sperm Wars is essentially an evolutionary biology book which tries to explain various strategies men and women's bodies employ subconsciously to win an ongoing sexual arms race.

The book is written in a style where Baker describes a fictional scene (borrowing from newspaper articles, anecdotal evidence from friends, and other sources) which covers a specific sexual situation such as infidelity, homosexuality, rape, masturbation and so on, which is then analysed and interpreted from an evolutionary biology perspective.

The book suggests that an individual's body will employ a dynamic sexual reproductive strategy which is determined by its existing genetic characteristics, environment, opportunity and circumstance, with the ultimate aim of acquiring the best possible set of genes from a mate to pass on to future generations. The strategies discussed often involve subterfuge.

I personally found the book incredibly fascinating and extremely insightful in places, and definitely worth the read. Baker tackles a lot of issues in the book which are not typical reading for most people, most notably gang rape and paedophilia, which are quite graphic, but every issue is approached logically and analysed appropriately. No judgements are cast on any of the scenarios.

I assume most people will have stumbled on the book from one of two avenues, either by being interested initially by the sex chapter in Dawking's Selfish Gene, and probably having read the Red Queen by Matt Ridley, or Sex is Fun by Jared Diamond, with the second group of people being those who are working their way through the reading list of Neil Strauss from The Game. I would have thought people in the first category will get the most out of this book.
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Format: Paperback
I bought this after reading The Game by Neil Strauss. I know a lot of the other reviews have said that if you're reading this book because of The Game, it's going to be totally wasted on you blah blah blah, but I disagree.

The book is engaging, and well written, being written in a format unlike anything I have come across previously. It's basically several 'case studies' which are fictional hypothetical situations, with a formal analysis of the behaviour exhibited afterwards.

My main criticism of the book, and why I didn't give it a 5-star rating is because A - I was familiar with a few of the concepts discussed prior to reading the book, so despite most of the book consisting of theories that were new to me, some of them were very basic, and thus didn't really need to be discussed in the depth they were. B - The main concepts the author comes up with are repeated over and over again throughout each chapter; it was obviously written with the intention of being understood by the average adult, but the repetition became monotonous.

It IS worth a read though, and for the price it's a good deal.
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This is an absolutely excellent piece of work. Written in a detached and scientific style (a necessity given the emotive nature of the content) - this book captures the reader and retains them through it's novel structure and massively thought provoking content.
Sperm Wars leads us through a series of fictional sexual scenarios - and goes on to comment on them from a biological and evolutionary viewpoint - and their impact on the people involved. The scenarios are close to home - and the conclusions are hard hitting, uncomfortable and scientific - all at the same time.
This book gives the reader a unique and unromanticised view into the world of sex, and sexual selection - both in the human animal, and the rest of the animal kingdom in general. For all those who enjoyed the "Battle of the Sexes" chapter in Dawkin's Selfish Gene - this is the book for you. In fact, this is the book for anyone who is remotely interested in male and female sexual behaviour - but can probably only be fully appreciated in the light of Dawkin's book.
All in all, brilliant.
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