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The Trouble With Testosterone: And Other Essays On The Biology Of The Human Predicament Paperback – April 24, 1998
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As a professor of biology and neuroscience at Stanford and a recipient of a MacArthur Foundation "genius grant," Robert Sapolsky carries impressive credentials. Best of all, he's a gifted writer who possesses a delightfully devilish sense of humor. In these essays, which range widely but mostly focus on the relationships between biology and human behavior, hard and intricate science is handled with a deft touch that makes it accessible to the general reader. In one memorable piece, Sapolsky compares the fascination with tabloid TV to behavior he's observed among wild African baboons. "Rubber necks," notes the professor, "seem to be a common feature of the primate order." In the title essay of The Trouble with Testosterone, Sapolsky ruminates on the links, real or perceived, between that hormone and aggression. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Ask fans of popular science to name the best science essayists today, and the name of Sapolsky should not immediately come to mind. This book should help to change that. Sapolsky, a biologist at Stanford and a contributor to Discover magazine, writes on the biological aspects of human behavior. Subjects in this provocative and highly literate collection include male aggression, the onset of puberty, the psychology of guilt, and possible connections between madness and religious experience. The author implicitly invites readers to ponder two recurring themes: there are no simple answers to questions of why people act the way they do, and even the most deviant behaviors can be seen as "normal" behaviors taken to extremes. This book offers lots to think about. Highly recommended.?Gregg Sapp, Univ. of Miami Lib., Coral Gables, Fla.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
This book have a collection of highly interesting essays about behavior, how the brain works and neuroscience.
He makes you have another perspective. Read it and see for yourself what I mean!
The tales here cover his familiar subjects: the mind and emotions (one is tempted to say the soul), stress and our reactions, and how brain chemistry effects us every day. He also relates anecdotes from his baboon observations, and in the most touching essay talks about his father's life and death. The essays are gathered from several years and several magazines and each stands on its own...there is no particular theme beyond the aforementioned subject matter. The best is probably about how we sometimes take on the identity of another: illustrated by an anecdote where he watched Stephen Hawking give a lecture "through" the voice and body of a vigorous young graduate student, and Sapolsky's own odd reaction to his father's death. It is interesting, mildly disturbing and raises some ideas about individuality I certainly had never considered. In another essay, Sapolsky describes why so many illnesses have the same symptoms (its because it is our own immune systems that make us feel so crummy). Elsewhere he draws parallels betweens kids going off to college and male baboons switching tribes, and in yet another essay compares aging in baboons and humans.
So, should you read this book?
"Yes", if you have read other Sapolsky books and are looking for more.
"Yes", if you have heard about Sapolsky and want an introduction before diving into one of the larger works (though I still think 'A Primate's Memoir' is the best place to start).
"Yes", if you are interested in the brain and/or like good science writing.
Sapolsky saves the best for last in the chapter on "Circling the Blanket for God". He discusses a controversial take on the origins of religion, and asks the reader to either stop reading at that point if he/she finds the material offensive, or finish the chapter if he/she chooses to continue.
Sapolsky's writing is easy to understand, and his ideas are thought provoking. This is definitely an educational as well as an entertaining piece of work.