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Why Is Sex Fun?: The Evolution of Human Sexuality (Science Masters S.) Paperback – 25 Sep 1998

3.6 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (25 Sept. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465031269
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465031269
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 1 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 161,152 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From the Inside Flap

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. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Quite interesting but rather long winded and not really a very appropriate title.
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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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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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 of when ovulation takes place, and how menopause may have evolved are all covered in some detail. This is interesting, well thought out and clearly explained. However, there are some glaring omissions and a few stylistic irritations that I found disappointing.

Diamond sets up his explanations with assumptions of what he believes the reader assumes or feels, none of which relate to my own thoughts and opinions and I found being told what I was thinking to be irritating. It also detracts from the interesting points he raises.

The discussion of some of the genetic reasons behind human sexual behaviour is thorough and fascinating. However, the question 'why is sex fun?' is not specifically about behaviour. There is no mention of the 'fun' involved; particularly surprising being the lack of discussion or even mention of orgasm. There are good reasons cited for the amount of sex people have, the reasons for people staying together and the reasons for wanting more than one partner, but absolutely nothing about how or why it is FUN.

I was left still asking the questions I hoped I'd find answers to in the book. Why do women orgasm? for example. There is plenty on females being receptive to sex but nothing on us enjoying it. How do our sexualities develop and define our pleasure? Do other animals have 'fun'? Is it unusual for the female to orgasm? How would our behaviour be different if it was merely a basic drive that wasn't as much 'fun' (like eating or hunting.)

Had the book been differently titled, I wouldn't have been disappointed. I'd have seen it as an excellent collection of theories and facts about human sexual behaviour and how we compare to other animals. But I kept waiting for the title essay to appear and it never did.
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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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