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Why Is Sex Fun?: The Evolution Of Human Sexuality (SCIENCE MASTERS) [Paperback]

Jared Diamond
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
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Book Description

16 Aug 2001 SCIENCE MASTERS

Why are humans one of the few species to have sex in private? Why do humans have sex any day of the month or year, including when the female is pregnant, beyond her reproductive years, or between her fertile cycles? Why are human females one of the few mammals to go through menopause?

Human sexuality seems normal to us but it is bizarre by the standards of other animals. Jared Diamond argues that our strange sex lives were as crucial to our rise to human status as were our large brains. He also describes the battle of the sexes in the human and animal world over parental care, and why sex differences in the genetic value of parental care provide a biological basis for the all-too-familiar different attitudes of men and women towards extramarital sex.


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Why Is Sex Fun?: The Evolution Of Human Sexuality (SCIENCE MASTERS) + Guns, Germs and Steel: A short history of everybody for the last 13,000 years + Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive
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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Phoenix (16 Aug 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 075380154X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0753801543
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 215,426 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Jared Diamond is Professor of Geography at the University of California, Los Angeles. Until recently he was Professor of Physiology at the UCLA School of Medicine. He is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the widely acclaimed Guns, Germs, and Steel: the Fates of Human Societies, which also is the winner of Britain's 1998 Rhone-Poulenc Science Book Prize.

Product Description

Book Description

A fascinating insight into how human sexuality came to be the way it is now - Jared Diamond explains why we are different from the animal kingdom.

About the Author

Jared Diamond is Professor of Physiology at the Medical School of the University of California, Los Angeles. Trained in phsyiology, he later took up the study of ecology and has made fundamental contributions to both disciplines. He is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences and the author of The Rise and Fall of the Third Chimpanzee (which won the British Science Book Prize in 1992) and Guns, Germs and Steel: A Short History of Everybody for the last 13,000 Years, also a winner in 1998.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
If your dog had your brain and could speak, and if you asked it what it thought of your sex life, you might be surprised by its response. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Many good ideas. 4 July 2003
Format:Paperback
All of the questions he discusses are fascinating, and his arguments persuasive (once he gets to them). Although he would have had even more meat with less rhetoric the book only contains 150 pages of text. You don't need to follow any complex biology or sociology to understand anything here, and you may well find you've finished it at the first reading. I recommend the book for its insight and interest, but these's something that really annoys me about it...
Why does Professor Diamond repeatedly characterise the reader as a unimaginative dolt? Each question in the book is introduced like this:
1. The author makes an observation about human sexuality
2. He imagines the book's reader giving an simple-minded reply.
3. The Professor explains why the question is more complex than you, the reader, had thought.
4. Now, the answer.
After a while this device started to wear on me. Why does he assume that people who read his books are unable to think for themselves? Does he really believe that all (most?) of his readers will have the same knee-jerk reaction to the questions he poses? The worst example is the question of concealed ovulation; the text asks why this would evolve when it leads to inefficiently permanent receptivity. In answer to this question the author has the reader exclaim "Obviously because it's fun!" after which he takes a whole page to explain why "having fun" isn't a valid evolutionary explaination. Excuse me, Professor Diamond, I'm reading a book entitled "Why is sex fun?" and seventy pages in you don't credit me the intelligence of wanting an answer.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A supreme exercise in political correctness! 16 Sep 2005
By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME
Format:Paperback
Giving stars to rate this book is misleading. The book deserves five for style, but no more than three for content. Diamond is a convincing writer with an excellent prose style. He delves fully into his topics, presenting them lucidly, demonstrating an ability to think deeply before presenting his ideas to the reader. His GUNS, GERMS AND STEEL deserved every accolade it received. THE THIRD CHIMPANZEE was a fine example of innovative thinking, presented with clarity. He deserves full marks for challenging readers to consider their opinions and reflect on options previously unconsidered. You don't need to be a scientist to read him, you only need an open mind.
Diamond's theme is that human sexuality is not just different from that of the other animals, but almost drastically so. Reproductive strategies range from 'r' [sow 'em and forget 'em] through 'K' [no sacrifice is too great] with humans almost the ultimate K practitioners. Evolutionary pressures on a creature that wasn't a good predator but fine prey led us down a path resulting in a massive investment in raising offspring.
What are the implications of our version of sexual techniques? Human beings have evolved in a way that natural sexual signals have been buried out of sight. It's called concealed ovulation and methods of pinpointing when a woman was likely to conceive weren't developed until this century. Fish, birds, and other mammals [particularly baboons] exhibit colours, engage in ceremonial displays or have other visible indications that the time is right! But humans keep it a big secret. Is there a valid reason?
And when a sexual coupling has generated a foetus, we put more time, energy and resources to its birthing and upbringing than nearly any other animal.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny and fascinating 21 Oct 2006
Format:Paperback
Jared Diamond is one of those writers who is described as a populariser of scientific or academic ideas for the general educated reader. He is also one of the best writers of this type around. This book is one of his finest. He is wonderfully interesting in describing our unique and bizarre sexuality and comparing it with that of other animals. He also suggests intriguing reasons for the evolution of our unusual sexual physiology and behaviour. He has gathered a fascinating collection of examples to illustrate this and describes them with economical wit. His is the sort of writing that leaves you smiling or even chuckling with pleasure. The cause is usually the sheer deftness of the writing (rather than the sort of buffoonish exaggeration beloved of Bill Bryson in similar territory).

He takes his readers on a lucid trip through the evolutionary and cultural history of human sexuality. The "political correctness" mentioned by another reviewer seems to me to be sheer playfulness, rather than to be taken so seriously. (He does seem to be such a nice man!).

However, the real core of the book (for me) is when he draws on his own anthropological expertise to illustrate the range of sexual practices that exist around the world in different cultures and how these can shed light on our own sexual natures. Hugely entertaining and really makes you think.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but misleading 10 Jan 2011
Format:Paperback
In absence of the title, i found this book to be fascinating and insightful to a lay-person. The descriptions of the sexual practices of other animals and creatures in opposition to humans was very revealing. However, the title of the book is a question, which i expected to be answered at some stage, and in a succinct form. In this, the book singularly fails. The author does not at anytime say "so why is sex fun? Because...xyz" It just doesn't happen.

I don't wish to detract from the very cogent arguments that are postulated, but the title remains unanswered, and for that reason i was left disappointed. Perhaps much like the unrequited orgasm, i was left wanting.

It's a pity, because Diamond is a very insightful writer - perhaps a bit doom and gloom if you read Collapse - but i really wanted an answer from him; i was begging from an answer, a succint answer that never came.

Otherwise a good read.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Not as funny as I hoped
I usually like Jared Diamond books, but this one just wasn't as informative or funny as I usually find him to be. Read more
Published 24 months ago by mcmeg12
4.0 out of 5 stars It's a good question...
Sexual reproduction is a key factor in the survival and development of life on Earth, a shuffling of the genetic pack that gives organisms a better chance to deal with evolutionary... Read more
Published on 12 April 2012 by Iain S. Palin
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, informative, entertaining, but flawed.
Why is sex fun? is interesting, but it lacks an answer to the question posed in the title. The evolution of regular sex during non fertile times, female 'receptivity' regardless... Read more
Published on 29 Mar 2009 by Gingham Ribbon
4.0 out of 5 stars The least and shortest of Diamond's books, but excellent nonetheless
Sex is urgent, demanding, sometimes pleasurable, but fun? No, I would not call sex fun. By calling sex fun I think Professor Diamond skips over the very essence of sex which is... Read more
Published on 3 Jan 2009 by Dennis Littrell
1.0 out of 5 stars What a shocker
From it's purile title to its rambling, boring arguments and hopeless lack of any kind of conclusion this book is a real shocker. Read more
Published on 30 Aug 2007 by M. Roberts
5.0 out of 5 stars A educating book in classic Diamond style
This book is as good as other masterpieces by Mr Diamond. The author expands vastly our understanding of sexual behavior of humans. Read more
Published on 16 July 2001 by Heino Viik
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