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Marriage and Civilization: How Monogamy Made Us Human Hardcover – February 3, 2014

4.4 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Marriage and Civilization is a starburst in the heavens."
—Tom Wolfe

About the Author

William Tucker is a long-time author and journalist who has written on a wide variety of subjects for many national publications. He has written about environmentalism, crime, energy, housing, the schools, the tort system, the welfare crisis, and the family. His articles have appeared in Harper's, The Atlantic Monthly, Reader's Digest, National Review, The Weekly Standard, The American Spectator, The New Republic, Insight, Reason, and many others.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Regnery Publishing (February 3, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1621572013
  • ISBN-13: 978-1621572015
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #850,380 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Victorian values? Great! Sexual repression? Bravo! How counterintuitive can you get? William Tucker's new book, Marriage and Civilization, turns just about every sexual freedom slogan coined over the last 50 years on its head.

To make his case that it was monogamy that civilized mankind, Tucker traces the roots of family formation from prehistoric, even pre-human times. Polygamy may be the natural tendency of any prosperous society, as men with wealth and status demand multiple wives, but the result, he avers, is almost always aggression. Whether in the form of wars, forcible marriages with underage brides or killing off rival men, he sees violence as a natural outgrowth of polygamy, and cites the Muslim world and early Mormon history in the US as evidence.

Monogamy, on the other hand, keeps men on the straight and narrow path to peace and prosperity - not unlike what American Mormons achieved after they foreswore polygamy. That's why Tucker sees Victorian society with its lengthy lists of Dos and Don'ts as an exemplar of civilization. Likewise, he rates the much-reviled post-war Eisenhower era as the best possible atmosphere for a prosperous middle class.

That's quite a bit to swallow, and there's lots more to the book (although it never drags.) If nothing else, Marriage and Civilization is provocative in the best sense of the word. I'd recommend it for your next book club selection. Or, for a little excitement, read Marriage and Civilization, give a copy to your favorite hippie or feminist and have at it.
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Format: Kindle Edition
In this book, William Tucker examines the role that marriage - and specifically the role that monogamy - has on building a stable society. Tucker's central thesis is that monogamy is the key reason for why Western civilization has been so successful, although he does concede that the industrial revolution also played a role in the rise of the West (still, even then, he points out that other societies have also adopted the industrial revolution, yet did not experience the same economic success that Western countries did.)

This book is divided into four sections, with the first section being an examination of how monogamy evolved throughout human history, beginning with our primate forbears. The second section considers how monogamy took root in the West during the ancient world, while the third section considers marriage customs in the non-Western world, especially in Islamic countries, in India, and in China. Tucker finishes up with the fourth section, which takes a careful look at what has been happening to the family in America during the last 50 years.

I found this book full of great insights, and I feel that Tucker does an especially good job of describing the forces that have led to the breakup of the African-American family over the past half-century, and how many of these same forces are now leading to the breakup of the Anglo family in America.

So, why did I give this book 4 stars rather than 5? Two reasons: (1) I found much of what Tucker wrote in his first section on the evolution of marriage during humanity's prehistory to be quite speculative. At one point, Tucker even admits that what he was describing has the quality of "just so" stories.
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Format: Hardcover
Tucker is a brave man, to have put forward a thesis like this. Every feminist will hate it. So will every slacker father.

Nevertheless, unpalatable as it may be to some, he's right.

At least he's right that monogamy works best, for civilizations, for mothers, and certainly for children. As to whether or not his theory that hunter/gatherers were monogamous, and the agricultural societies that replaced them polygamous, I don't know.

He points out that "As explorers pushed...into the forgotten corners of the world...they discovered...tribes that were still practicing hunting and gathering....All turned out to be monogamous" (p 18). He also found that polygamy fostered war. Bands of unattached men turn violent.

All known societies have formed marriages. It is only the current western society which has tossed even the barest form of marriage aside, leaving us with countries in Europe with illegitimacy rates of over 50%. This is a situation unparalleled in history, so there is no way to predict the consequences.

What we do know, from something like a century of research into single parenting, is that a child raised in a single parent household is at a severe disadvantage.

Here's what some of the research shows:

Children raised by a single parent are much more likely to be emotionally disturbed (especially boys), and, alarmingly, this continues throughout their lives.
Children raised by a single parent graduate from both high school and college in much smaller numbers, and, once again, especially boys.
Children of single mothers experience reading and school problems in much much higher numbers.
Children of single mothers are far less likely to take advanced classes.
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