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Monkeyluv: And Other Essays on Our Lives as Animals (2005)

by Robert M. Sapolsky

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333668,992 (3.94)6
Described by Oliver Sacks as 'one of the best scientist-writers of our time', Robert M. Sapolsky here presents the human animal in all its quirkiness and diversity. In these remarkable essays, Sapolsky once again deploys his compassion and insights into the human condition to tell us who, why and how we are. Monkeyluv touches on themes such as sexuality, aggression, love, parenting, religion, ageing, and mental illness. He ponders such topics as our need to seek out beauty; why our preferences in food become fixed; why we are sexually attracted to one another; why Alzheimer's disease tends to be a post-menopausal phenomenon; and why grandmothers buying groceries for their grandchildren are part of nature's Darwinian logic.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
A very accessible science-oriented book! Dr. Sapolsky has collected an engaging series of his previous essays on humans and our behavior. This book is great for someone who's interested in understanding our biology but doesn't want to go read primary sources (ie journal articles). I'd put him up there with Oliver Sacks as one of the great science writers (and speakers). I was inspired to read this after attending a talk he gave. Thankfully my girlfriend loaned me her much loved copy. I look forward to reading more by him, especially Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers. ( )
  nosborm | Oct 10, 2021 |
sendup of fantasy cliches
  ritaer | Jul 17, 2021 |
I love reading science essays. No really, I do! And I really enjoy when the essay is written well. A little humor on the subject goes a long way here, too.

Sapolsky knows his topics. As he states in his footnotes to "Bugs in the Brain", he will "get crazed about some topic, read endlessly on it," and "eventually write something, getting it out of my system, thereby freeing me to fixate on a next topic." He does his research. And how!

Each essay is a mini-study on a different topic, although some do play off of others, each with footnotes for further reading. There is one that is mentioned frequently that I am curious to read, by the same author (Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers), but unfortunately my library only carries it in e-book form. From primates that display a range of human-like emotion and societal behaviour, to the science of mothers who don't; from parasites to PTSD. The science of life is truly amazing and deep, yet Sapolsky manages to keep his writing quick and witty, leaving the reader to laugh frequently while absorbing the depths of life.

Never once did I feel like the essays were speaking down to me, from some scientific tower. I have encountered scientific journals that will write in this manner, and I loose interest quickly - not for not understanding the material, but rather from the tone. That was not an issue here, and was full of well-explained stories of life, and what makes it so unlikely! ( )
  Ermina | Feb 25, 2016 |
Monkeyluv is a book of essays by Robert Sapolsky on animal (and human) behavior. I really loved A Primate's Memoir - his adventures in Africa studying baboons - so I got this on a whim. It's divided into three sections: the first, and most scientific, discusses the interactions of genes with the environments in which they're placed. The second part talks about the actions of individuals from a genetic/evolutionary perspective, and the third is about the actions of society as a whole from the same perspective.

My favorite essays were "Nursery Crimes," about Munchausen's by proxy, and "The Cultural Desert," how different religions correspond to the environment where they were founded. He acknowledges at one point that a lot of his research is the result of a brief but intense obsession with a subject, so there is a variety of material here to mull over. He takes a relaxed but knowledgeable approach to biology, since most of these essays were originally published in mainstream magazines, so all of the material is very approachable. But he also doesn't condescend to the reader, and you end up having learned a lot when you're done. ( )
  the_awesome_opossum | May 18, 2008 |
It had a really dumbed down explanation of gene expression. So now I finally get it. The Monkeyluv essay and the one about Munchausen by proxy were just heart breaking. I love his writing bcs he'll be all sciency and then say something really human. When he wonders if we are asking the right questions it's like a breath of fresh air. Cool book. ( )
  Clueless | Jan 27, 2008 |
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
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(Introduction): If your car breaks down, we all know the best way to fix it -- you don't find someone skilled at doing an exorcism rite over the engine.
As a scientist doing scads of important research, I am busy, very busy.
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Described by Oliver Sacks as 'one of the best scientist-writers of our time', Robert M. Sapolsky here presents the human animal in all its quirkiness and diversity. In these remarkable essays, Sapolsky once again deploys his compassion and insights into the human condition to tell us who, why and how we are. Monkeyluv touches on themes such as sexuality, aggression, love, parenting, religion, ageing, and mental illness. He ponders such topics as our need to seek out beauty; why our preferences in food become fixed; why we are sexually attracted to one another; why Alzheimer's disease tends to be a post-menopausal phenomenon; and why grandmothers buying groceries for their grandchildren are part of nature's Darwinian logic.

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