1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A good book when it sticks to the facts,
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This review is from: The Prehistory of Sex: Four Million Years of Human Sexual Culture (Paperback)
This book makes a number of good points, but they are overshadowed by the author's political agenda. The fact that a book about prehistoric sex feels obligated to go on an extended analysis of Nazi racism (pp. 237-243) pretty much sums up how far it veers from its stated topic.
The author does his best work when he focuses, oddly enough, on what we *don't* know. His discussion of the ancient "Venus" figures is interesting because he offers a range of possible interpretations and cautions against drawing any hasty conclusions about their original meaning(s). His discussion of the difficulty in "sexing" skeletons is interesting, as I had presumed that that was fairly easy to do and that DNA analysis was routinely used to clarify the identity of badly damaged remains. Futher, I liked his explanation of how sexually-charged artifacts get buried in museum basements and this distort our understanding of our ancestors.
Unfortunately, Taylor's bias builds steam as the book progresses. He is willing to accept almost any evidence that ancients were more liberal than modern West in their sexual attitudes, especially when it comes to homosexuality and transgendered individuals. He draws selectively from primate behaviors after cautioning that it's wrong to do precisely that. The book goes far past the physical evidence to paint a particular picture of *natural* human sexuality, a sexuality that the West has denied and buried. Even if his assertions are correct (which I doubt), his evidence simply doesn't support his assertions.