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Sperm Wars: The Science of Sex

3.6 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0788160042
ISBN-10: 0788160044
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

If you've ever looked upon sperm as a little army of white-coated soldiers setting off to sack and pillage a barely pregnable fortress . . . well, you'd be right, according to this fascinating new book. Dr. Robin Baker, who has studied sperm and cervical mucus in much greater detail than anyone would've thought necessary, has come to some startling conclusions: that less than 1 percent of sperm is actually designed to fertilize an egg (the rest are there to block other men's sperm), and that 4 to 10 percent of all children born to married couples are in fact the offspring of other men, usually of higher socioeconomic status, with whom the mother had a short-term relationship. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

The major force in the shaping of human sexuality, claims British biologist Baker in this highly unorthodox study, is "sperm warfare," the competition among sperm from two or more men competing inside a woman to fertilize the egg. In this theory, biological imperatives shaped by evolution dictate sexual behavior. Male sexual behavior is driven by each man's need to prevent his female sexual partner from exposing his sperm to competition; or, failing that, to give his sperm the best chance of winning. A woman's sexual behavior, meanwhile, reflects her urge to maneuver her partner or to influence which male's sperm will have the best chance of succeeding. Baker views infidelity, group sex, partner-swapping, even rape and prostitution as risky strategies that nevertheless may enhance an individual's reproductive success compared with long-term monogamy. Men, he says, pursue four reproductive strategies: bisexuality, pursuit or avoidance of sperm warfare and a balancing of this pursuit/avoidance. Just which strategy a male is programmed to adopt will depend largely on his rate of sperm production. Baker's treatise unfolds as a series of graphic, fictional sex scenes, each followed by interpretive commentary. Its reliance on evolutionary biology to explain human behavior is reductionist, much in the manner of the writings of "selfish gene" proponent Richard Dawkins, but it is also challenging, intellectually provocative and likely to raise considerable and deserved debate.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 319 pages
  • Publisher: Diane Books Publishing Company (June 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0788160044
  • ISBN-13: 978-0788160042
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,708,857 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

For video interviews and a wider-ranging biography, to read both praise for and criticism of his books, and to see the controversies they have triggered, visit www.robin-baker.com.

Dr Robin Baker was born in Wiltshire, England in 1944, and grew up in the small village of Manningford Bruce in the Vale of Pewsey. The tiny 2-room school he attended had fewer than 30 pupils, with all the under 7s taught in one room and all the 7-11 year olds in the other. Between the ages of 11 and 18 he attended the nearby Marlborough Grammar School where coincidentally, 30 years earlier, the author William Golding had also been educated; all later pupils were expected to be very familiar with Golding's classic book LORD OF THE FLIES.

After obtaining a First Class Honours degree in Zoology, then a PhD, at the University of Bristol, Robin Baker lectured in Zoology at the Universities of first Newcastle-upon-Tyne and then Manchester where, in 1981, he became Reader in Zoology in the School of Biological Sciences. In 1996 he left academic life to concentrate on his career in writing and broadcasting.

He has published over one hundred scientific papers and many books. These include the international bestseller SPERM WARS which was based on his own lab's original research on human sexuality and which has so far been translated into 23 languages. His work and ideas on the evolution of human behaviour have been featured in many television programmes around the world.

His first novel PRIMAL - described by many as an adult LORD OF THE FLIES - was published in the UK and USA in 2009. In 2010-11 it will also be published in translation in Holland, Israel, France, Brazil and the Czech Republic.

Since 2002 he has lived in the foothills of the Spanish Sierras with his partner, the writer Elizabeth Oram, and their family. He has six children.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
A somewhat amazing book on how women can collection sperm from different partners and how the collections of sperm will duke it out within her body in the chase to fertilize the egg, among many other amazing things, including the fact that some sperm serve not to swim after the egg, but to block another man's sperm from the chase. Written from an evolutionary point of view, Robin Baker's text is very readable and certain to make many people uncomfortable. It has had a remarkable effect on me. I suddenly realized how insignificant our consciousness is even in something like reproduction. So much goes on beneath our consciousness, and many things within our consciousness are done for reasons we don't understand or are mistaken about. For example, according to Robin Baker, masturbation serves a reproductive purpose! I won't try to explain here, but he convinced me. Also group sex may actually help a husband to get his wife to bear his child! Read it. I kid you not.

Women come off pretty much as unconscious instruments of the process, men to a slightly lesser degree. All this is as I have always thought, but I had no idea about the details, and I mistakenly thought people, as conscious beings, had a greater effect on reproduction than we actually do. Incidentally at least ten percent of our children are not fathered by the husband, and close to twenty percent of conceptions are from sperm other than that of the husband (revelations not unique to this book). "Nowhere is there a woman true and fair," spake the poet. The duplicity of sex is required according to Baker because the woman needs to simultaneously mate with the champion (which is what she is always trying to do) while at the same time keep a man around to help take care of the offspring.
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Format: Paperback
While on the autobiographical website of my favorite role model, Tucker Max (TuckerMax.com), this book was recommended. In his own words Tucker said "Quite simply, this book completely changed the entire way I looked at life, at women, and at relationships. I am the person I am today because of this book and the world it opened me up too. The application and digestion of the knowledge is this book revolutionized my life."

Those are some powerful statements, so I decided to go ahead and order this book off of Amazon. When I received it, I read all 319 pages within a span of 5 days. Needless to say, I was pretty much amazed by how enlightening this book is.

Robin Baker describes 37 sexually-oriented scenarios in the 37 sections and within each section, after a description of the scenario, describes the science behind what is going on in the scenario. Each scenario is different and covers subjects such as monogamy, polygamy, fidelity, infidelity, women's menstrual cycles, both male and female masturbation, the role of orgasms (all types), the effect of different sexual positions, group sex, homosexuality, bisexuality, rape, rough-and-tumble sex, prostitution, and of course pregnancy.

Each different topic is explained in a way that is suitable for the average person (not too sciency, but still sciency enough) and even the scenarios are written extremely well. While reading this book, I suggest reading with an open mind, it will become apparent to the reader how our bodies are often manipulating our minds as means to an end. More often than not, that end is successful reproduction. In a nutshell, this book gives an explanation for every seemingly random action that has to do with reproduction.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There's a lot of silly stuff in some of the negative reviews below (quotations are paraphrased):
1) "Baker's soft porn examples only deal with seedy, sleazy minority behavior. What about the vast majority who are monogamous?" This is multidimensionally silly. Firstly, statistics show that there is no such vast majority; to the extent that there is, it's a vast majority of people who are socialized into paying lip service to one set of ideals while furtively doing something else as their subconscious constructs rationalizations and excuses for why their bodies didn't follow the socialization to do X and went and did Y instead. Secondly, even if a set of circumstances is somewhat atypical, it can still exert decisive evolutionary pressure on a population, given millions of years to operate. If only 1% of people die in car wrecks, over time this will select against people who are bad drivers for genetic reasons (slow reactions, bad eyesight, weak attention span, etc.), though it may take many generations. Thirdly, if a minority trait or a tendency to a particular reproductive choice exists in a population to any significant degree (e.g., bisexuality, or women conceiving ~10% of children through cuckoldry), there *must* be an evolutionary reason for that trait or tendency to have not been eradicated by natural selection pressure. Baker's "soft porn" examples merely work through some of the concrete reasons and situations for why these traits and tendencies might be preserved. Agree or disagree with them if you will, or suggest your own reasons, but merely dismissing them as minority cases is a cop-out.
2) Several reviewers complained about "no hard data or bibliography.
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