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Fatherhood: Evolution and Human Paternal Behavior Paperback – March 5, 2012
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This book should be required reading for all fathers and potential fathers. Whether a man is contemplating starting a family down the road as a biological father or buying one ready-made off the shelf as a stepfather, this is the indispensable guidebook for trying to be good at fatherhood. Similarly, for social and behavioral scientists interested in families and parenting from a cross-cultural perspective, this will become the standard reference for years to come. No matter what perspective one brings to the table--this reviewer's happens to be evolutionary--there is plenty here to make one think. It is almost scary how much information Gray and Anderson pack in this book, let alone how easy it is to read. (M. J. O'Brien Choice 2010-10-01)
Gray and Anderson's Fatherhood: Evolution and Human Paternal Behavior, provides a much needed perspective on men's parenting in general, as well as nuanced discussion of how this parenting varies across cultures, historical periods within cultures, and across individual men. The evolutionary perspective is critical, but equally important is the focus on fatherhood, as books and articles on fatherhood are dwarfed by a large and growing body of research on motherhood and alloparenting. In redressing this balance, Gray and Anderson do for fatherhood what [Sarah] Hrdy has done for motherhood...Essential reading for anyone interested in fatherhood and...an excellent starting point for researchers who want to pursue evolutionarily informed studies of fatherhood. Perhaps the most important quality of this work is that it should spark the interest of young evolutionary minded scholars, such that in coming decades fatherhood will be studied with the same care and depth that motherhood has been. (Drew H. Bailey, Benjamin Winegard, and David C. Geary Evolutionary Psychology 2010-06-25)
Gray, and Anderson's Fatherhood: Evolution and Human Paternal Behavior is a timely publication that brings together a wide range of research on fathers, the expression of paternal care, and the impacts of paternal involvement. Indeed, for scholars interested in male reproductive ecology or parental investment, among other anthropological topics, Fatherhood would stand on the merits of its review of the existing scholarship on fatherhood. More notably, however, using an erudite, yet, conversational style, Gray and Anderson apply principles of evolutionary theory to this body of literature in a heretofore-missing compilation...Altogether Gray and Anderson present a host of interesting studies that illustrate the unique ways in which humans and other species experience fatherhood under the skin and, even so, elucidate the extent to which researchers have only scratched the surface in these exciting new domains. In total, Gray and Anderson's Fatherhood adds richly to the ways we think about infant care and human cooperation as being foremost to understanding aspects of human evolution...Gray and Anderson have made a significant contribution to the field of biological anthropology. Appealing to both scholars and nonscholars alike, this text represents a new "go-to" source for those wishing to learn about evolutionary, anthropological approaches to human and hominin fatherhood. For those of us who seek to teach the value of a truly integrative approach to these subjects, this book will undoubtedly prove to be a highly valuable commodity at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. (Lee T. Gettler American Journal of Human Biology)
[Fatherhood] is helping fill the research gap about fathers. It describes, based on masses of scientific evidence, the so-called "Dad Effect." Or, how fatherhood changes men. (Douglas Todd Vancouver Sun 2011-06-18)
About the Author
Kermyt G. Anderson is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Oklahoma.
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For further discussion and a summary of the book's content per chapter, please see the book review in 'Evolutionary Psychology' from 2010.
The authors start the book with chapters that focus on the evolution to human beings with their longer development outside the womb than other primates, the comparable size of men and women (rather than the males being much bigger as in gorillas), and the loss of the "grasping reflect" that most (if not all other?) primates, such as baby chimpanzees, use to cling to mothers, leaving human infants needing to be carried around for a long time while their human brains grow - a job for, you guessed it, fathers.
Then they look at "men and marriage", "fathers and fertility, "who's the dad", "having it all" and so forth.
Some of the chapters are very good. "Babies on His Brain" was especially good. The authors also draw from Hewlett's interesting work that the original hunter-gatherer human cultures that existed for thousands of years involved men doing substantial child care (p. 37) and the period of agriculture (which also happens to be the period of the patriarchal religions) for the last 5000 years where some men did less child care is a relatively short time.
The parts of the book that are the weakest mostly have to do with the fact the book is entirely about the father.Read more ›