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Like a Virgin: How Science Is Redesigning the Rules of Sex Paperback – August 23, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-1851689118 ISBN-10: 1851689117

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Oneworld Publications (August 23, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1851689117
  • ISBN-13: 978-1851689118
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,930,954 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Think of her as the female equivalent of Brian Cox making science accessible for the masses... Entertaining and provocative, this promises to change the way you think about sex." Stylist "A fascinating examination of a future that may not be too distant, as well as an account of historical misconceptions about conception." Kirkus Reviews "[Prasad's] elegantly written romp through the science and history of conception is conceivably as much fun as you'll ever have thinking about sex without working up a sweat." Publishers Weekly

From the Back Cover

Aarathi Prasad is a biologist and science writer. She has appeared on TV and radio programmes, including as presenter of Channel 4’s controversial ‘Is It Better to Be Mixed Race?’ and ‘Brave New World with Stephen Hawking’, as well as BBC Radio 4’s ‘The Quest for Virgin Birth’, and written for Wired, the Guardian, and many other publications. Previously a cancer genetics researcher at Imperial College London, she subsequently moved into the worlds of science communication and policy, in areas including passage of the human-animal chimaera stem-cell bill in the UK Parliament.

A single mother, Dr. Prasad lives in London.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Damian on December 27, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
I was gifted this from a friend who also agreed with the fact the book is in bad need having somebody read over it and carrying out a spell and grammar check. I made it half way through chapter 2 and had to put it down, it was just far too infuriating for me. Two stars is being generous, if I'd have read the rest of the book then maybe it would have been enlightening, I just didn't have the patience for it though.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mona G. Affinito on October 23, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
For everyone who believes that "one man, one woman" is a simple statement, I wish there were a requirement to read the first sections of this book. For everyone who thinks that pregnancy is nothing but a woman carrying a fetus around in her abdomen for nine months, I wish there were a requirement to read this book.

I confess I would not pass a test on its contents. Maybe the very fact that it is laden with complicated, detailed, though fascinating information has something to do with the fact that I am the first to write a review. Nonetheless, I think reading, or at least scanning, it would profit anyone who has an opinion about sex, whether it applies to choices on the abortion issue or attitudes about homosexuality, or even just why we do it. If nothing else, it would force one to be aware of the complexities of fetal development, pregnancy, childbirth, and gender determination. Knowledge has taken us way beyond dichotomous thinking.

In many ways, even though it's not obviously the intent of the author, it is a demonstration of the extent to which we resist scientific evidence which contrasts with what we would like to believe. Fortunately, when facts do break through and evidence is accepted, it leads to additional - in this case fascinating - discoveries.

I would warn any potential reader who follows through to the end, however, that a strong willingness to accept ambiguity is essential, as it is for any scientific report. That's the exciting thing about science. Rarely, if it ever happens, does one arrive at a final answer. The excitement lies primarily in the questions and possibilities raised.
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Format: Paperback
Like A Virgin is an incredibly fascinating non-fiction book about how a virgin birth could be possible. Many ideas are explored, and are attempted to be explained. Many historical figures are also used, for example with the use of (William) Harvey in The Renaissance;
“Harvey believed that all life came from eggs: not just for birds, which was obvious, but for mammals too.”
Harvey offered a different approach than most other scientists, who, at the time, believed that all life came from sperm.

The tale of how Mary produced a child from a virgin birth (without the use of a man/sperm) was also attempted to be explained. No conclusive evidence will ever be made, however, because she has been dead for thousands of years.

We also learn about how men could ever bear children, which is completely fascinating, there are also case studies of where a womb is transplanted.

In order to read this, you need a little bit of knowledge about the human body, for example how the reproductive organs function (and other organs too). Although, if you don't you can still infer a lot of information from the explanations. But many things aren't explained.

While LaV is full of interesting information, it is written dully. Where you're interested in the topic, but the way it's delivered isn't very appealing, and I often found myself engaging in other activities while reading. I read a chapter a day, which is a fair pace for this type of book. However, I found myself becoming bored half-way through.

But, I have to say LaV is really fascinating book, filled with information about fertility, and twins, and many other items- There's even an index in the back. It is also written really well.
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By Andrew Charig on May 15, 2013
Format: Paperback
If there were half stars, this would get 3 1/2.

For openers, ignore the jacket hype: this is a serious and interesting book, and that promotional hysteria does not do it justice. And I don't understand one reviewer's objection the the style: I am usually ultra-sensitive to grammatical solecisms, and I found few here.

I find Prasad's tales of anomalies from the history of reproductive science just as entertaining as Gould's and Dawkins' accounts of evolutional oddities, and as exciting. But her explanations are not as complete

* she discusses parthenogenesis at great length, but never mentions haploidy or diploidy, which are at its root

or as precise

* two embryos (p 79) cannot fuse to produce anything but Siamese twins; she may have meant zygotes

* saliva pH (p 98) runs about 6.0 to 7.0, median 6.8 - slightly lower than normal, not higher;

* meiosis (p 101) does not happen in eggs or sperm, but in the cells that produce them.

Picky-picky, admitted. But the major flaw is the lack of figures: she devotes a chapter to a mother and daughter who are identical because they may be nearer clones than relatives, but provides no portraits, and the material she is explaining cries aloud for diagrams and charts but there are none - not a single figure in the whole book.

I have to knock off a star and a half for the downsides, but not two.
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