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From The CriticsReviewer: Gary B Kaniuk, Psy.D.(Cermak Health Services)
Description: This book uses evolutionary concepts to better understand violence in society and families. A collection of international experts explores war, intimate partner violence, child abuse, and animal cruelty.
Purpose: It is intended to synthesize "the theoretical and empirical work of leading scholars in the evolutionary sciences to produce the first extensive and authoritative review of the literature."
Audience: The audience includes "students and researchers in the fields of psychology, anthropology, criminology, sociology, ethology, biology, and behavioral ecology."
Features: The book begins with an introduction to the evolutionary perspective, which encompasses a series of evolved psychological processes adapted from the basic problems of finding food and shelter, finding a mate, procreation, and confronting predators. The book then examines family violence including intimate partner violence, especially men's violence against women, filicide, and child abuse. Part three explores violence outside the family, and includes a chapter on sexual offending, which considers whether rape is a function of adaptation or a byproduct of other adaptations. The issue of aggressive women is addressed, which can be attributed to fear, anger, and/or female competition. Animal cruelty is discussed in terms of dirty play, frustration and anger, and male aggression. The book suggests that war can be explained by the "male warrior" hypothesis, because of an extensive history of male-to-male conflict. A feminist evolutionary view of war looks at male dominance to accumulate resources as a key factor. The book ends with future directions for understanding violence. It discusses the prevalence of violence in literature and the question of why religion is not effective in decreasing wars and homicide. Finally, the authors put forth the idea that a solution to violence begins with each individual, an attitude that will eventually permeate society as a whole. The chapters are organized in a fairly uniform manner and the book contains both a short table of contents and an extended table of contents. There are very few tables and figures, though they are very helpful in clarifying the text.
Assessment: The authors provide theoretical paradigms to explain various forms of violence in an easy-to-read book that will appeal to a wide audience.