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Heroes, Rogues, & Lovers: Testosterone and Behavior Paperback – August 15, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

To understand how life works, you must understand testosterone. This male hormone--which is present in both men and women--determines who leads society and how it is led; the professions we choose, and in some cases, how well we do in them; and in some cases how long we live--after all, the high-testosterone guy tends to be a risk-taker.

Author James Dabbs, a social psychologist, has been studying testosterone for decades at Georgia State University, and many of the studies coming out of his lab have made headlines. To pick just one of dozens of examples, he and his colleagues found that high-testosterone soldiers were more likely to get in trouble with the law, use drugs and alcohol, and have 10 or more sex partners in a year. The more testosterone one has, the more wild oats one feels compelled to sow.

Of course, testosterone isn't a static thing; it rises with feelings of victory and accomplishment and crashes with feelings of defeat. Dabbs takes us through the world of testosterone--from the basic chemistry to how it affects love, work, and society--and makes it literate, erudite, and outrageously entertaining. Snippets of Shakespeare are used to make a point alongside stories of high-testosterone female prisoners. Men will find Heroes, Rogues, and Lovers a glorious explanation of their hormonal core, while women can use it to understand the men in their lives, and even themselves--after all, testosterone increases libido in geese as well as ganders. --Lou Schuler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

In the past three months, testosterone has become a hot topic on TV magazine and talk shows, online and even in the New York Times Magazine. Dabbs, a former researcher of social psychology at Georgia State University, "move[s] between science and anecdote, example and principle, theory and fact" to explain everything you wanted to know about testosterone but were afraid to ask. Unfortunately, much of what he serves up as science yields many claims that are scientifically unsupportable. Dabbs has drawn many of his conclusions from testosterone studies he and his students conducted that generally did not follow strict scientific testing procedures, on populations including "college students, prison inmates, trial lawyers, athletes... [and] construction workers." Unfortunately, this leads to such hilariously generalized statements as "high-testosterone men, on average, are leaner, balder, more confident... and likely to favor tattoos and gold jewelry." Or, "high-testosterone men are more likely than low-testosterone men to have blue-collar jobs." Explaining that high-testosterone people have "limited verbal ability," Dabbs cites the sports metaphors that former President Bush used in his speeches as showing "an instinct for the simple logic of testosterone." He also claims that women and men with high testosterone "have characteristics in common with James Bond, Night Man, Buffy the Vampire Slayer [and] Indiana Jones"Ahardly a scientific statement. Aside from these fanciful extrapolations from his research, Dabbs does not address critiques of traditional scientific inquiry as articulated by scientific gender specialists such as Anne Fausto-Sterling or Donna Haraway. Although written in an entertaining style, the book ultimately tells us more about the cultural myths surrounding testosterone than about the hormone itself. (Sept.) COMPLICATED WOMEN: Sex and Power in Pre-Code Hollywood Mick LaSalle. St. Martin's, $24.95 (304p) ISBN 0-312-25207-2 ~ Movie quiz: who said, "I'm in an orgy, wallowing. And I love it!" Madonna? Demi Moore? Koo Stark? No, it was Norma Shearer in 1931's Strangers May Kiss. In this breezily written, engaging look at the position of women in pre-Code Hollywood pictures, LaSalle uncovers a host of actors (some, like Ann Dvorak and Glenda Farrell, now almost forgotten) and films that broke social barriers with their frank portrayals of female sexual desire and freedom. Contradicting prevailing film theory that claims the 1940s as the golden age of women in film, LaSalle boldly posits that the best women's movies were made before 1934, when the studios were forced to follow the notorious Production Code. According to the author, pre-Code Hollywood films reveled in nonjudgmental, often quite serious, portraits of women characters exercising enormous sexual, personal and social freedomsAfrom sex outside marriage to having their own careers. "The Production Code," LaSalle notes, "ensured a miserable fate... for any woman who stepped out of line." Drawing upon movies, reviews, social trends such as rising female college admissions and even the writings of feminists such as Charlotte Perkins Gilman, he makes a solid case that the freedom women gained in the 1920s changed America, and that this change was reflected, and reinforced, in films. Along the way, LaSalle offers a variety of revealing insightsAsuch as his observations on the anti-Semitism of Roman Catholic clergy in their war against HollywoodAas he entertainingly traces the careers and early work of such major stars as Barbara Stanwyck, Joan Crawford and the once-famous Ruth Chatterton. Photos not see by PW. (Sept.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Companies (August 15, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0071376283
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071376280
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,134,877 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Littrell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 20, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Males commit violent acts at a rate much greater than women. The vast majority of people in prison are males. One of the reasons is they have more testosterone pumping through their veins than women. Testosterone makes people take chances. It makes them more interested in sex and more aggressive. It makes them into "heroes, rogues and lovers," to quote the title of this interesting book. Testosterone tends to affect low socioeconomic status males more than high status males, and the effects of testosterone can be mitigated by learning. Women also produce testosterone, but at lower levels than men; however, what they do produce affects them more. Women are attracted to high testosterone males, but do not necessarily marry them. Women select males and thereby create the males that exist. We inherit our testosterone levels, and testosterone comes before rambunctiousness, not the other way around. (This last from pages 87-88.)
These are some of the facts gleaned from the research of Professor Dabbs, who is the head of the Social/Cognitive Psychology Program at Georgia State University. This book is a report on that research presented with examples, allusions and references to literature and the popular culture, leading to an easy read. Dabbs, along with his collaborator, his wife, Mary, "a former publicist with several feminist organizations," allows us to see the world through testosterone-shaded glasses, but without prejudice. Their report is balanced and fair. They give us the downside of testosterone and the upside, as implied in their title.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By John S on January 27, 2002
Format: Hardcover
An interesting topic but the book is ultimately very disappointing. There are far too many anecdotes and not enough hard science -- in particular the interaction of testosterone with other factors such as intelligence or the levels of other hormones is only touched on. The description of the ancestral environment and the role of testosterone in human evolution is comic book at best. The book serves a useful purpose in surfacing the role of hormones in human behavior and demolishing the naive pc supposition that the only differences between men and women are due to education and culture; but leaves the reader wanting more. There is a much better book waiting to be written on this theme.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on November 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read the book 'Heros, Rogues, and Lovers: Testosterone and Behavior' by James and Mary Dabbs in the midst of the presidential debates between Al Gore and George W. Bush. The book caused me to wonder about the testosterone levels of the two candidates as a possible factor in their demeanor. In the third debate, when Gore strode into Bush's 'personal space' during Bush's speaking turn, I thought "now that's high testosterone and wouldn't it be great to get him to spit to find out!" Perhaps Dr. Dabbs and his students had similar thoughts.
What an interesting ecclectic book. Where to place it on my shelves? Next to the self help books such as 'Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus'? With the biology and ethology books? Or with my old social psychology books from my college days. Or possibly even in the poetry and literature section. People from all walks of life will find this to be a charming intelligent book about the influence of testosterone on animal and human behavior void of snobbery that so often infects academic works. I especially liked the folksy anecdotes about people and animals that add warmth and color to the book.
Now here's an idea for a commercial offshoot to this work: Would it be possible to produce a testosterone self-test kit similar to pregnancy test kits available in the drug store? If testosterone proves to be such a potent factor in how people get along, well think of the possibilities. Parents of dating-age daughters could screen prospective boyfriends and at least raise warning flags about boys with high testosterone. It could be used on a personal basis as a tool to better understand oneself by tracking fluctuations that possibly lead to mood swings.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Craig Scott on October 30, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The author strings together a well researched cache of interesting anecdotes which do a great job a grabbing your attention and illustrating the point. However, he never goes into any of the bio-chemistry of how it all works. So, I guess its more of a sociology oriented book. But it never realy goes anywhere.

Factoids like "men with high testoterone are more aggressive, and more likely to beat their wives etc. etc." didn't give me much to chew on. I did enjoy the statistic that shows that high level corporate types who have successfully clawed their way to the top are not necessarily high in testosterone, though they might think they are... (they actually "relationship" their way up -- which should be good news for women execs). I thought about the execs I know and laughed.

Ah well.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Emily A. Gershwin on October 5, 2000
Format: Hardcover
An entertaining read that provides a scientific context for understanding many different types of behaviors in men, but more interestingly: women. Often neglected in other studies on testosterone, this book explores the many different ways high levels of testosterone manifest in women. Laugh-out-loud funny at times, every reader will see someone they know (or perhaps themselves) in this book! Rather than using high testosterone as an excuse for outrageous or sociopathic behavior, James and Mary Dabbs illustrate how appropriate child-rearing can direct the high testosterone child's energies to positive ends.
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