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on 1 May 2014
The book is extremely well written and one of the most fascinating.

Great thank you to the author. The book is clever, brave, scientific, cutting edge, honest, and simply wonderful.
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on 27 October 2014
Bought for 99p on a Kindle Daily Deal (like many of my books!), I thought this would give me something different to read. It's basically a discussion of various studies that have been made over the years into what turns women on. Some of the studies involve rats, some primates and some real women. The content is very dry and quite long winded, and although it was interesting in a few places, mostly I found it pretty boring.
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on 21 September 2013
This book takes a thorough look at female sexuality in science and does come up with some very interesting results. A good book if you don't really know much about female sexuality or are trying to understand it. Don't however, expect an answer to what women want, because the book, as with most research tends to, ends with more questions than it started with. Nevertheless, it's a great start for serious scientific exploration of the most fascinating things about women: their sexuality.
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on 10 July 2013
Try not to be put off by the American 'pop-psychology' style, with its occasional digressions into soft-porn reportage. The reading list adds some scientific credibility to this interesting review of recent medical and psychological research into the nature of human female sexuality. Bergner reports studies in rats and, for primates, Rhesus monkeys and humans, and compares and contrasts the theories of (mainly American) researchers into human female desires and fantasies. Although he selects an agenda, focusing on the prevalence of violent fantasies amongst women, the tendency for female desire to fade in long-term monogamous relationships, and presents evidence supporting a view that global patriarchal civilisations repress women's 'natural' sexuality, he avoids advancing any challenge to conventional morality. Despite the fact that it would only exacerbate male insecurities, this book left me feeling that women would be much 'happier' if society encouraged them to indulge their promiscuous desires.

Coming shortly after 'Fifty Shades of Grey', this book will go some way to explaining why 'Mommy Porn' sells so well, despite any absence of literary merit. The author could have referred to the Sperm Competition theories advanced in recent years by publications such as Robin Baker's excellent 'Sperm Wars', and ought - perhaps - to have considered that Hanna Rosin's recent 'The End of Men' presages the possibility that the world's male population are on the brink of losing control of female sexual behaviour. Regardless of economic, religious and political turmoil, the West - and probably the developing world - might just be facing the end of 'civilisation as we know it'. Maybe the 'end of the era' predicted by the Mayan Calendar's new Baktun has already taken place, and by the time we wake up to notice that morality is no longer driven by male fears of cuckoldry and the assurance of paternity, women will be starting to rewrite the rules.

But the book need not be read with an eye to a potential moral apocalypse. If you are male, it ought to help you understand what might excite the women in your life, and that sexual possessiveness is a losing battle. If you are female, it may help to liberate you from feeling guilty, kinky or perverted, even if you secretly fantasise about sexual activities which would probably get you kicked out of a second wave feminist group. I'd recommend it to anybody who has a mother or father, or might become a mother or father, or cares about other people who engage in sexual activities. Draw your own conclusions: this book ought to convince you that our traditions and conventions have been as wrong as female genital mutilation throughout the millennia of patriarchal civilisations. Unless we can progress towards a better understanding between the genders, and achieve a better balance, then there's going to be trouble ahead for our species.
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on 9 September 2013
After reading some very enthusiastic reviews in The Times and The Sunday Times, not to mention references to the book in reviews of recent films, it seemed a 'must read'.
Frankly, you don't learn a lot more by reading the book than was in the reviews. For me, it is too anecdotal and I hated the populist style, weaving different strands together as if it were a novel.

But, the book may achieve the worthy goal of telling a wide audience some apparently important facts about women's desire.
The key facts being that, if it valid to measure subconscious desire by vaginal blood flow, then most women are 'turned on', without necessarily being consciously aware of it, by images/thoughts of lust being shown by men, women and even monkeys, whereas straight men are turned on, and are very aware of it, only by images of women.
Further, that the degree of arousal is invariably far greater when presented with a stranger or new lover than a long-term partner. Indeed, this is a stronger factor for women than men, who are commonly blamed for losing interest in their partners. And the common belief that men are visual and women not is also false.

But the book points out that blood flow, wetness and arousal generally can occur when a woman is raped, so it doesn't necessarily prove 'desire' as we would normally define it. However, it does seem that women have been forced by society into the straitjacket of heterosexual monogamy, with no acknowledgement that this isn't what their bodies want.

The anecdotal chapters that so annoyed me relate the stories of a handful of American women and, to my mind, prove nothing. There are also accounts of the behaviour of certain, carefully selected, species of monkey in zoos. Whether we can learn about human desire from bonobos, I also doubt.
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on 31 July 2013
I ordered this book on the basis of an interesting review in a prominent English Sunday newspaper. Wanting to read more, it was easily downloaded and that was probably a mistake. As highlighted in the review, the actual research by the various scientists which forms the subject matter of this book is extremely fascinating, and deserves, not only more funding but a wider audience and the author’s slightly perfunctory examination of why it has had neither could have been expanded to make a much more interesting book.

This, however, is not my principle objection to what would have been a really interesting read. Having to read past the annoying ‘new journalism’ (surely, by now Old Journalism and with none of, say Tom Wolfe’s panache) was a chore. Descriptions of the individual scientist’s personal appearances and office spaces and the experimental subjects’ tedious sexual fantasies have clearly been included to literally ‘sex-up’ what the publishers obviously feared might otherwise turn into a dry tome. The are very distracting and in my opinion this strategy had precisely the opposite effect. As the author points out, this research is at best ‘fringe’ for respectable, academic peer review, and whilst it may be of considerable interest to the pharmaceutical industry, the opportunity to simply re-brand an existing product for it’s side effects as in the case of Viagra, occurring again is expecting lightening to strike twice in the same place. As the book makes clear, this is a much more complex; less mechanistic system for psycho-chemical tinkering and the interests for either interference or non-interference are equally myriad and complex. Bergner, has, however, in my opinion, done no end of disservice to his subject matter by dumbing it down to the level of a soft-core, airline pot-boiler and the scientists whose earnest and serious work has formed the material of the book, will see themselves further trivialised and marginalised as a result of its publication. Although it is in no way intended as an academic text, it is also missing any kind of intelligent critique of the research methodology and the conclusions drawn there-from, except that paraphrased from the participating researchers. This was another missed opportunity.

I realise that I was perhaps expecting too much and that if a pleasant diversion from say, a morning commute, is required, then this book will do as well as anything else.
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on 9 March 2014
This book doesn't answer the question posed by the title, but it does poses some interesting and thought provoking questions regarding our more traditional ideas (such as parental investment theory) about female desire. It will be interesting to see what new light in shed on this fascinating but under researched subject in the coming years.
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on 2 September 2014
Bergner presents a number of interesting ideas and poses an interesting question in his title, but I didn't feel he had answered it by the end of the book. I think he offers useful but not earth-shattering perspectives on female sexuality, but worth reading if you are interested in the topic (and I suspect most people are...)
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on 5 July 2016
This book, full of scientific studies, blows up the traditional narrative on men being sex-starved (they can't help it, it's biology) and women not caring about sex. What happens when you have female sexologists conducting studies? You learn about womens' sexuality. And you will find a much different picture. A quote from the book from a male sexologist, when questioned why there weren't more studies done on women, 'Why would I care about women's sexuality, I am a man'. I have recommended this book countless times and am about to buy a copy for everyone I know!
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on 4 August 2013
As a long time women's health worker, I was aware of some of the content of the book. It was most heartening to see in print scientific explanations of the still current taboos surrounding female sexuality and in such a readable form.
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