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Ancient Bodies, Modern Lives: How Evolution Has Shaped Women's Health Hardcover – May 27, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-0195388886 ISBN-10: 0195388887 Edition: 1st
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Editorial Reviews


"This volume is the most recent of an increasing number of books on the evolutionary biology of disease. . .This book might be easier to read for nonspecialists. . .Nevertheless, for anyone with an interest in the evolution of disease. Evolutionary Medicine offers thought-provoking material."--The Quarterly Review of Biology

"This is a wonderful addition to Evolutionary Medicine, and both fill a unique niche. These are the best examples of why evolution is so pertinent to contemporary medicine. The chapters are provocative and force students to think in new ways. In some chapters, standard practice is turned on its head. We need future health practitioners to be thinking outside of the box. This book is an incredibly important contribution to the literature."--Joan Stevenson, Western Washington University

"From the remodeling of the birth canal of the pelvis, to the elaboration of post-menopausal life, to modern changes in the pace of childbearing and the in practice of breastfeeding, Wenda Trevathan shows how an evolutionary perspective can shed new and important light on contemporary issues in women's health. Written with clarity and authority, this is an important book for women, their doctors, and everyone interested in how the human condition has been shaped."

--Peter T. Ellison, John Cowles Professor of Anthropology and Human Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University

"Written by a leading light in the field of evolutionary medicine, Wenda Trevathan's Ancient Bodies, Modern Lives describes how many contemporary health problems, particularly those of women, are the result of a mismatch between our "Stone Age" bodies that evolved over millions of years and our current (and radically changed) life styles. Thorough, authoritative, and easy to understand, this book offers suggestions for making informed decisions that impact the health of contemporary women and that of their children and their children's children. Run, don't walk (or stroll bipedally), to give this important and elegantly written book to your favorite bride-to-be, mother-to-be, mother, grandmother, or great grandmother! Inquisitive men will also find this book engaging."

--Dean Falk, Ph.D., Hale G. Smith Professor of Anthropology, Florida State University, and author of Finding Our Tongues: Mothers, Infants, and the Origins of Language

"Dr. Trevathan has given us a thoroughly enjoyable and highly informative consideration of the challenges to good health faced by all contemporary women, whose physiology, morphology and psychobiology have been shaped by evolutionary processes acting over millions of years. Weaving together scientific evidence from anthropology, endocrinology, psychology, medicine and evolutionary biology, she offers a balanced view of complex issues in an accessible style sure to engage a wide audience....Academicians will value her rigorous scholarship and ample citations. But better still, Dr. Trevathan speaks directly and clearly to all those persons seeking to understand the fascinating variety and flexibility of women's bodies."

--Virginia Vitzthum, Ph.D., Senior Research Scientist, Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction; Professor of Anthropology, Indiana University, Bloomington


"The strength of the book is its integration of results from many fields of research that any reader will find informative, along with an invaluable bibliography." --THE QUARTERLY REVIEW OF BIOLOGY

"The casual but scientifically assertive tone of this book renders it particularly useful for students and novices in the field of evolutionary biology and anthropology. The author tackles complex concepts by providing basic theoretical foundations, followed by discussions of the issues, and, on occasion, a suggested 'solution'. A well-reasoned balance is achieved between scientific and social complexity and the 'bigger picture'. -- Anne L. Grauer, Department of Anthropology, Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, IL

"Though written by a scholar, this book is not only for academic audience. There is no doubt that as a whole or in the form of individual chapters, it can be used in classes of human evolution, gender and societies, and more. But every single woman, regardless of her age, should read this book open-mindedly because it can help understand problems they have experienced in the past or will experience in the future. And, more importantly, this book should be read also by men, with an even more open-minded attitude, because it can teach them a lot about their spouses or girlfriends, and will definitely help them in making decisions often and wrongly considered solely 'women's affairs'." -- Andrea Cucina, HOMO: Journal of Comparative Human Biology

About the Author

Wenda Trevathan, PhD, is the Regents Professor of Anthropology at New Mexico State University. A biological anthropologist whose research focuses on the evolutionary and biocultural factors underlying human reproduction, she published Evolutionary Medicine and Health: New Perspectives in 2008 with OUP.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (May 27, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195388887
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195388886
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 1 x 6.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #869,920 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Wenda Trevathan is Regents Professor of Anthropology at New Mexico State University where she teaches courses in medical and nutritional anthropology. She is a biological anthropologist who earned her PhD in anthropology at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Her research and writing focus on the evolutionary and biocultural factors underlying human reproduction including childbirth, maternal behavior, sexuality, and menopause. Her primary publications include works on the evolution of childbirth and evolutionary medicine. She is a co-editor of two collections of works on evolutionary medicine (Oxford University Press, 1999 and 2008) and recently published Ancient Bodies, Modern Lives: How Evolution Has Shaped Women's Health (Oxford University Press).

Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Roxana on October 6, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm not sure why but while reading this book I kept having the feeling that it was meant to be a research paper. At least that's how I've been writing mine.

I think it's an exceptional book, full of great information that every person but especially so woman should be aware of. Things that affect our cycle and life and health and seeing that information across years, that makes a difference. How the environment has changed across time and how our bodies have changed with it, to be honest I always just thought we were a pretty static species only slightly changing over thousands of years.

Part of the downside of this book, and for me it was a pretty big downside - It gives advice about activity (exercise)and diet that hasn't been researched properly by the writer. The author has just used mainstream data and expressed it in a way as if it is a fact. Why do I know that? Because in the past year I have extensively been doing research on these two particular subjects (well more then just two, but these are the focus) and have found much of the advice in the book to be at least slightly wrong if not very wrong. The reason why it bothers me is that, the book is not a book about diet, it is not a book about working out, it is a book about women's health and evolution thereof.
But excepting this last flaw that I mentioned, I have to say I think every woman capable of reading should read this book. So that's why instead of 3 stars I give it 4.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm a doctoral student in anthropology so I first read this book in the context of a class, but it is extremely accessible. You don't need a PhD to enjoy this book! Dr. Trevathan is a clear and engaging writer and the subject matter is fascinating. I re-read this during my first pregnancy and my husband read it too. I've since given the book to a few friends who are expecting and they've all enjoyed it too! Do you have a friend with a curious mind who just announced he or she is expecting their first child? Say congrats and then share this book with them!
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Goods vs. Great on February 19, 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
so boring....ugggg
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