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The Descent of Woman. Hardcover – May 1972


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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Stein & Day Pub; 1st Edition edition (May 1972)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812814584
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812814583
  • Product Dimensions: 23.9 x 15.5 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 80,264 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Elaine Morgan was born in 1920 and after studying at Oxford University worked as a television writer. In 1972 she published The Descent of Woman suggesting that human evolution had an aquatic origin. This idea was attacked at first by scientists but the book became an international bestseller. In the decades since Morgan's aquatic ape hypothesis has gained widespread support.


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Review

"It was one of the most outrageous, improbable evolutionary ideas
ever proposed... now the idea... is becoming respectable." -- 'The Observer'

"Part feminist polemic, part evolutionary bombshell." -- 'The Guardian'

"She is more scientific than Genesis, more up to date than
Darwin... and she writes better than Desmond Morris."
-- 'Sunday Telegraph' --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Elaine Morgan was best known as a writer for television until the publication of 'The Descent of Woman' in 1972, which became an international bestseller. She then spent ten years researching human evolution before publishing 'The Aquatic Ape' in 1982. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 4 July 2001
Format: Paperback
We hear a lot today about the ascent of man or woman, how humans evolved. This seems to be logical how humans split from other primates. I found it interesting concerning Ms Morgan's view that by the time humans 'left' their aquatic lifestyle, there has only been one human species.
I do not disagree or agree with that. It hints at a possibility concerning those 'semi-species' that might have co-existed with modern man at any time prehistory - their differences may have been only racial rather than a separate human species. Ms Morgan suggests that even the earliest austropicalus africanus, were far more human like in appearance than the general view among experts.
Still, her view on why people are what they are seems logical enough. She argues in this book that it was 10 million years ago when certain apes were forced to take to the water for protection while in the book Aquatic Ape, she decided that it was only 5 million years ago.
But even if woman and man are much older, there is no reason why he and she couldn't have evolved from a semi-aquatic lifestyle.
A fascinating and interesting book.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 21 Mar. 2000
Format: Paperback
Elaine Morgan's Descent of Woman argues against some of the oldest superstitions of "Tarzanian" (Ms Morgan's term) physical anthropology. Her seminal work casts serious doubt on the andro-centric hypotheses which ascribe Women's physical attributes to the sexual needs of men. Today her theories have been all but proved, yet her book still makes illuminating reading, and a source of wonder!
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Janet Raynor on 28 Jun. 2005
Format: Paperback
I've bought about 5 copies of this book since the first edition was published in the 1970s: they were lent to friends because the book is so good, and not returned for the same reason.
Elaine Morgan provides a refreshing and plausible account of how we got where we are today, how you cannot consider evolution without considering women, and challenges many of the men-the-mighty-hunter myths.
What puzzles me is that her theories (based on Hardy) have now got wide-spread credence, but it is still possible to find recently-published books on evolution that make no reference to the aquatic theory.
A brilliant book: informative, readable ... and - added bonus - funny.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 26 May 2003
Format: Paperback
The Descent of Woman takes a critical look at how the theory of evolution, has become dogged by male prejudice. The book explains how this prejudice has led to some rather unscientific interpretations being placed upon the evidence.
For example it explains how aggression has become misinterpreted and even admired by men as part of their evolution, yet our closest relatives, the ape and chimpanzee are not agressive by nature and there is no real evidence to suggest that humans are either.
This book is very well written and easy to read. I found some parts very amusing, when reading some of the truly ridiculous things male scientists have actually said about women...and then other parts were more worrying for the same reason. The book remains scrupulously fair and does not stray into anything remotely "feminist" or "anti male", yet I think it sends a fairly clear message to male scientists to put aside their prejudices when researching and writing on the subject. It would even help if they would stop the continual use of the pronoun "he" and the phrase "as every school boy knows".
I confess I do not believe in evolution myself, yet I would recommend this book, because the conclusions reached are far more credible than anything else offered up on the subject.
I would recommend it to anyone studying evolution and also anyone with an open mind/interested in "who we are" and "where we come from".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By E. Dalhuijsen on 5 Mar. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I borrowed a copy and had to order a few more for interested friends.. Fascinating, clever, and enlightening on many aspects of male-female interaction. Interesting and funny.
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By Taponne on 11 May 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
We read this book decades ago, and were very impressed with its hypothesis. I don't think the quality of the reprint is quite as good as the original, but it's far better than some "resurrections" of out-of-prints we have come across. The author makes her argument with apparent scientific rigour, without being too chippily feminist, and the style is lively and entertaining. I am glad to have refound this book, and may well buy some of her other works.
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By Peter H. Jackson on 16 Feb. 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The clarity of thought, explanation, and comment make the book so easy to read and understand, and to accept the hypothesis of the aquatic ape. As I read the final few chapters I did wonder why Ms Morgan had felt them to be relevant to her argument - they seem to belong in another book altogether - only to discover that she had formed the same opinion herself, as she explains in the Epilogue.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It is a brilliant account of all the reasons for why the aquatic theory of the descent of not just women but of humanity is the best theory that has thus far been presented. It is obvious that we have a background sometime during our long developmental history along the shores of the sea. Witty, full of fun and wordings that catches your imagination.
Highly reccomended.
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