Sex and War: How Biology Explains Warfare and Terrorism and Offers a Path to a Safer World

Overview


As news of war and terror dominates the headlines, scientist Malcolm Potts and veteran journalist Thomas Hayden take a step back to explain it all. In the spirit of Guns, Germs and Steel, Sex and War asks the basic questions: Why is war so fundamental to our species? And what can we do about it?

Malcolm Potts explores these questions from the frontlines, as a witness to war-torn countries around the world. As a scientist and obstetrician, Potts has worked with governments and ...

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Sex and War: How Biology Explains Warfare and Terrorism and Offers a Path to a Safer World

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Overview


As news of war and terror dominates the headlines, scientist Malcolm Potts and veteran journalist Thomas Hayden take a step back to explain it all. In the spirit of Guns, Germs and Steel, Sex and War asks the basic questions: Why is war so fundamental to our species? And what can we do about it?

Malcolm Potts explores these questions from the frontlines, as a witness to war-torn countries around the world. As a scientist and obstetrician, Potts has worked with governments and aid organizations globally, and in the trenches with women who have been raped and brutalized in the course of war. Combining their own experience with scientific findings in primatology, genetics, and anthropology, Potts and Hayden explain war’s pivotal position in the human experience and how men in particular evolved under conditions that favored gang behavior, rape, and organized aggression. Drawing on these new insights, they propose a rational plan for making warfare less frequent and less brutal in the future.

Anyone interested in understanding human nature, warfare, and terrorism at their most fundamental levels will find Sex and War to be an illuminating work, and one that might change the way they see the world.

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Editorial Reviews

Melvin Konner
…with journalist Thomas Hayden, [Potts] offers a lively and highly readable account of the evolution of war and terrorism.
—The Washington Post
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781933771571
  • Publisher: BenBella Books, Inc.
  • Publication date: 12/1/2008
  • Pages: 457
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.60 (d)

Meet the Author


Malcolm Potts, MB, BChir, PhD, FRCOG, is the Bixby Professor at the University of California, Berkeley. A graduate of Cambridge University and trained as an obstetrician and research biologist, his profession has taken him all over the world. Potts led a medical team into Bangladesh immediately after the War of Liberation in 1972, and he has worked in many other war-torn places including Vietnam and Cambodia, Afghanistan, Egypt, the Gaza Strip, Liberia, and Angola. His most recent books are Queen Victoria’s Gene and Ever Since Adam and Eve: The Evolution of Human Sexuality.

Thomas Hayden is a freelance journalist who writes frequently about science, medicine, and culture. Formerly a staff writer at Newsweek and US News & World Report, his articles and reviews have appeared in more than 20 publications, including National Geographic, Nature, and The Washington Post. He is coauthor of On Call in Hell: A Doctor’s Iraq War Story, a 2007 national bestseller. He lives in San Francisco with his wife and fellow writer, Erika Check Hayden.

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Table of Contents


1. Sex and Violence 1
2. The War of Nature 17
3. The Missing Link 39
4. We Band of Brothers 63
5. Terrorists 99
6. Women and War 119
7. Raids into Battles 147
8. War and the State 175
9. War and Technology 213
10. War and the Law 241
11. Evil 265
12. The Future of War 283
13. Women and Peace 303
14. Stone Age Behaviors in the Twenty-First Century 333
15. C ivilization at Its Best 365
To the Reader 385
References 389
Index 411
About the Authors 457
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 3, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Fascinating, Informative and Intelligently Written

    SEX AND WAR: HOW BIOLOGY EXPLAINS WARFARE AND TERRORISM AND OFFERS A PATH TO A SAFER WORLD is a long title that may put some readers off as a sensationalist treatise. But excellent authors physician/women's reproductive rights activist Malcolm Potts and award winning scientist Tom Hayden have managed to create a book that not only informs but also entertains. This is a book that reads like a fine novel - only the writing is all based on research and peppered with photographic images that heighten the controversies it contains.

    Though the book is hefty at over 450 pages, the chapters are plotted with a keen eye on maintaining the momentum of the message: war is innately a virile reaction, a male behavior, and the only hope to ending the cycle of constant war and terrorism is to introduce the nurturing effect of the feminine psyche. Change is a must and the manner in which the authors explore their thesis is rich in thought and touching in the manner in which it is written. They are brave enough to write controversially: 'In an increasingly dangerous world we need to analyze future scenarios as objectively as possible, using the best evidence. But we are becoming more religious, not less so. In democracies, religious fundamentalists are influencing policy and in the Muslim world fundamentalists are filling shortfalls in education. Fundamentalist teachings, whether Christian, Muslim, or any other religion, end up restricting and controlling women, which in turn makes wars and terrorism more likely. The twenty-first century is seeing a clash of cultures, but that clash is not between Islam and Christendom. Rather, it is between fundamentalism and reason. Reason's child, science, may entice us with new ways of killing one another, but it also teaches us to rein in our most aggressive tendencies.'

    There is much to learn from the vantage of both Potts and Hayden, and gaining their insights is as entertaining as reading a truly fine novel! Grady Harp

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 4, 2008

    Thorough

    Great read!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted September 6, 2010

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