- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Basic Books; 1 edition (June 11, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0465030157
- ISBN-13: 978-0465030156
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 37 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #399,303 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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How We Do It: The Evolution and Future of Human Reproduction 1st Edition
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This fascinating, comprehensive look at human evolution raises important questions about what everything from bottle-fed babies to assisted reproduction means for the future of the species. Martin, curator of biological anthropology at the Field Museum in Chicago and a member of the Committee on Evolutionary Biology at the University of Chicago, explains that he consulted more than 5,000 scientific papers and books to “distill the essence” of this vast subject. He succeeds in his stated goal to “maintain accuracy while writing plain English.” (A glossary that defines words such as aspermia, or a complete lack of semen, helps.) And this overview is filled with fascinating facts: it takes a quarter of a billion sperm to fertilize one human egg; apes and monkeys menstruate, but most other mammals don’t; regular sauna use can hurt sperm production because of the heat; fat tissue accounts for more than a pound of a typical seven-and-a-half-pound newborn; crib death is more likely in bottle-fed infants; and breast cancer is less common in nursing moms. A must-read for anyone interested in human evolution. --Karen Springen
[An] amiable information tour through the evolutionary history of mating, pregnancy, birth, and babies.... An intelligent, open-minded guide to the animal processes that somehow seem to make us most fully human.”Boston Globe
Mr. Martin's humble but crucial acknowledgment that biology is unavoidably complicatedthat we can't capture millennia of evolution or decades of research in glib sayings about the sexes' planetary origins or in single surveys of psychology undergraduatesis what makes How We Do It so compelling.... No Mars and Venus, no extrapolations about why we evolved to loveor hatestrip clubs or whether bottle-feeding dooms a child to a life of puerile amusements and a career at the Kwik-E-Mart. Here instead are the facts of life as you may have never thought about them.”Wall Street Journal
I have lectured for years on the topic of this book, and done research on primate reproduction. But even so, I kept coming across information and ideas new to me. The author's knowledge is encyclopedic. From mating, through pregnancy and birth, to baby care, to contraception and its opposite, we get an absorbing account of the evolutionary and functional biology of reproduction. Buy the book! It's a fascinating read, a real romp.”Alexander Harcourt, author of Human Biogeography and coauthor of Gorilla Society
Here at last is a thought-provoking, accurate, and entertaining account of the origins and present status of human reproduction. Robert Martin, a world authority on evolutionary biology, explores how evolution has shaped the patterns of reproductive physiology and the sexual and maternal behavior that characterize modern humans. He accomplishes this task with great clarity and wit.”Alan Dixson, Professor of Biological Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, and author of Sexual Selection and the Origins of Human Mating Systems
Intriguing .... [filled with] interesting factoids.”Washington Post
Misconceptions, cultural taboos, misguided assumptions about gender, and general prudishness have held back research on sex and its influence on the evolution of our species. Robert Martin's How We Do It provides a refreshing account of what we do know about the subject, how we got to this stage of awareness, and where we go next. Starting with an overview of sperm and eggs and ending with birth control and in vitro fertilization, Martin, who has been researching these subjects for decades as curator of biological anthropology at the Field Museum in Chicago, takes off the blinders. He puts human sex into the broad context of the genetic, morphological, and behavioral variation that exists in the animal kingdom.”American Scientist
Biological anthropologist Robert Martin wields decades of research to get at the evolutionary facts and inform people's reproductive decisions.... Fascinating detours aboundsuch as the successful, and sensitive, toilet training of six-month-old babies by Kenya's Digo people.”Nature
A gold mine of cocktail party trivia.... People who are fascinated by humans' past should read this book.”Science News
Robert Martin is one of our leading researchers on human biology and evolution, having made a career of generating novel and game-changing conclusions about why our bodies and organs look the way they do. In How We Do It, he brings his authoritative voice to a compelling, readable, and enlightening account about human reproduction. Read Robert Martin and you will not look at human bodies the same way again.”Neil Shubin, paleontologist, The University of Chicago, and author of Your Inner Fish
How We Do It is a fascinating account of the natural history of human reproduction. As modern medicine and technology increasingly encroach on conception, childbirth, and infant care, it is eye-opening to learn about how these processes actually evolved in our species. Robert Martin has written the perfect birds-and-bees guide for curious grown-ups.”Lise Eliot, Associate Professor of Neuroscience, Chicago Medical School, Rosalind Franklin University, and author of What's Going On In There?: How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life
"An accessible and affordable, yet rigorously reviewed, scholarly trade book that comes across as a career achievement. Buy it, read it, carefully consider it, and you will be on your way to becoming a cognoscenti in a diversity of fields related to humans and their evolution and reproductive biology.”Evolutionary Psychology
This fascinating, comprehensive look at human evolution raises important questions about what everything from bottle-fed babies to assisted reproduction means for the future of the species.... A must-read for anyone interested in human evolution.”Booklist
A fascinating treatment of a complex subject.”Kirkus Reviews
Martin, an anthropologist and curator at Chicago's Field Museum, covers every aspect of human reproductionfrom fertilization to infant carein this thoughtful, well-written book.... His comparative analysis and expertise permits him to draw compelling conclusions.... He also raises thought-provoking questions, such as why so many spermon the order of 250 billionare released when only one can inseminate the egg.”Publishers Weekly
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I'm so very glad that I did, an absolutely fascinating and highly accessible read.
Interesting topics discussed herein: declining sperm counts, benefits of breastfeeding, contraceptives, potty training, etc.
I recommend this book to anyone interested in human biology, human evolution, human reproduction, or interested in science generally. But no need for extensive scientific training, Martin has a way with words that makes complicated topics easy to follow and comprehend. For being as widely accessible as it is, his writing is not overly pedantic or condescending, just very informative and accessible. Those coming to the book with a some prior scientific training will also find plenty to enjoy as he seems to draw on a wide range of scientific research and methods from which to draw his conclusions. Best of all, he adds a bit of humor to boot.
The author is the kind of erudite, witty polymath you rarely find these days--curious about everything, rigorous in research, but definitely understanding that people need to know about the 18th-century Italian priest who put tight-fitting taffeta pants on frogs. (WHY put tight-fitting taffeta pants on frogs??? Gentlemen, think how such pants might prevent your sperm from getting anywhere. Empirical study has to start somewhere.)
There's lots of food for thought in this book for parents. But also for anyone who's, uh, ever been born from parents. And by "parents", think parents, parents, parents-- all the way back to early hominids, and back, back, back to ancestors who were the organisms who first invented sexual reproduction.
The chapter on feeding babies was so interesting that I missed my train stop. Really, this book is engrossing. You'll never think about sexuality the same way again.