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Anatomy of Love: A Natural History of Mating, Marriage, and Why We Stray Paperback – January 3, 1994
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From the Inside Flap
ates the reader, answers all those puzzling questions that caused your mother (or priest or guidance counselor or gym teacher) to blame God and/or hormones....Her prediction of a more open and egalitarian order provides a compelling--and hopeful--vision for the future."
THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER
Love at first sight...the copulatory gaze...dinner dates...jealousy... intimacy... homesexuality...infidelity...Dr.Helen Fisher, an anthropologist at the American Museum of Natural History, explains it all in this four-million-year history of the human species. She demystifies much about romance and pairing that we tend to believe is willfull or just plain careless. She offers new explanations for why men and women fall in love, marry, and divorce, and discusses the future of sex in a way that will surprise you.
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The first five chapters are dedicated to modern human relationships. Fisher uses statistics to show modern trends in courting, infatuation, human bonding, adultery, and divorce. Anthropological evidence is used to provide an evolutionary basis of why we go through a four year stage of sex, marriage, and divorce. The last half of the book is dedicated to how these innate tendencies have developed over the eons.
"Anatomy of Love" has several problems. First, it's dreadfully out of date. It was published in 1992 and most of its empirical evidence comes from the 1970's and 1980's. The fields of Anthropology and Geology are constantly changing. The fundamental tenets, like evolution, remain the same. The specifics, like how homo sapiens evolved, change. Fisher's account of ancient man is highly speculative. The probability of this speculation being completely accurate has decreased significantly with modern discoveries.
Second, Fisher constantly uses an evolutionary approach. This is a significant factor in modern behavior. However, at times it seems Fisher overlooks cultural factors in trying to explain why phenomena occur. Her speculative explanations, based on anthropological evidence and modern animals, may not be as important as she claims.
With that said: "Anatomy of Love" is an excellent read that has held up relatively well with time.