What the book lacks in rhetorical elegance it makes up for in sheer density and liveliness of scientific detail…[Moalem] also provides scattered but resonant calls for better understanding of human sexuality as a matter of public health.
The Washington Post
Birds do it, bees do it, but why do humans do it? In this wide-ranging look at the evolutionary reasons for sex, physiologist and evolutionary biologist Moalem says that it's all about shuffling the gene pool and getting rid of any unwelcome guests, such as viruses, that may have latched onto human DNA. But why is one particular person attracted to another? Moalem relays the latest research showing that smell plays a very important role in attraction, and that even our genes may influence one's smell, and thus a person's desirability, to others. Scientists have found that women tend to be attracted to different types of men at different points in their ovulation cycles (dark and handsome hunks at their height; sensitive, care-giving types at other times). Moalem (Survival of the Sickest) whizzes through his discussion of homosexuality, neglecting angles that would have added to the book, but readers will find thought-provoking material in his chapter on differences in sexual anatomy and on how chromosomes and body parts aren't always what we expect them to be. Moalem writes fluidly for the general reader, and when he necessarily goes into graphic detail, he does it gracefully. (May)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Moalem (Survival of the Sickest) writes, "We're here to explore human sexuality from beginning to end-what we like and why we like it; how it makes us feel; how it can go wrong; and how human intervention, through cultural traditions, scientific discovery, or both, can divert nature's path-across history, geography, culture, gender, and orientation...how sex works." It's not surprising that the book, while jam-packed with interesting factoids, fails to live up to this grandiose ambition. Chapters cover puberty, factors in attraction and arousal, sexually transmitted diseases, and birth control. Emphasis is placed on the oddest or least-known phenomena; much of the chapter on arousal, for example, is taken up with a discussion of female ejaculation, which isn't a huge part of the process for most people. While the book certainly fails on its self-stated terms, it is a pleasant read based on solid research, and it's probably more fun for being more like Ripley's Believe It or Not! than a comprehensive study. Recommended for most public libraries.
Mary Ann Hughes
Moalem (Survival of the Sickest, 2007) explores the social human from a sexual perspective, concluding that the evolution of sexuality can teach us a lot about behavior..From the earliest records of copulation to the latest medical research, the author examines every aspect of sex and relates it to our bodies' innate desire to procreate. He spares no subject. Menstruation, fertility, penis size, orgasm, ejaculation and contraception all prove to be physiological sidebars to the evolutionary edict "survival of the fittest," which the author equates with finding a healthy, virile partner and a secure, loving environment for childrearing. Factors influencing sexual attraction include pheremones, genetic makeup, immune system compatability and even ovulation. Of course, physical appearance also plays a role, but our perception of "good looks" is often shaped by a subconscious agenda. That "tall, dark and handsome" man has more pigment, which means lower folate levels, which indicate healthier sperm. The author argues that even homosexuality could be explained developmentally based on the type and amount of certain hormones present in the womb. Many species engage in homosexual activity for pleasure, he notes, suggesting that same-sex coupling may prove to be yet another piece of the evolutionary puzzle. Some of the theories Moalem presents are controversial, but all are provocative and entertaining, and he is careful to include cultural context when addressing sensitive issues like circumcision or STDs. The result is a volume stuffed with information that avoids getting bogged down in difficult medical terms or complex biological concepts..An accessible presentation of sex not just as anecessary means to protect our species, but also a vital part of a culture structured around love and pleasure.
“Sharon Moalem’s new book goes far beyond the typical ‘birds and bees’ sex talk. The neurogeneticist delves deep into human sexuality, and comes to some surprising conclusions.”
“Packed with trivia about the evolutionary history, intricate mechanics, and nitty-gritty mysteries of sex, sexual organs, and desire, Sharon Moalem’s How Sex Works manages to inject science writing with the prurient thrill of a gossip rag.”
"Packed with trivia about the evolutionary history, intricate mechanics, and nitty-gritty mysteries of sex, sexual organs, and desire, Sharon Moalem’s How Sex Works manages to inject science writing with the prurient thrill of a gossip rag."
“Moalem makes evolution sexy and sex astonishing. If you’ve ever been surprised by either your body or your heart, this book will probably tell you why.”
"Have you ever wondered HOW SEX WORKS? This book answers all of the questions you’ve ever wanted to know about how your body works sexually, but did not know where to find the answers. They are here!"
“An engaging synthesis of scientific research on why we humans experience our sexuality the way we do.”
“Read this book and discover sex again, but from a scientific perspective, and see why it evolved. It’s almost as much fun, and needs less energy.”
“HOW SEX WORKS is a must-buy for anyone interested in the ins and outs of why, psychologically and biologically, sex is about much, much more than the mere birds and bees.”
“Have you ever wondered HOW SEX WORKS? This book answers all of the questions you’ve ever wanted to know about how your body works sexually, but did not know where to find the answers. They are here!”