Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality

Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality


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Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality by Christopher Ryan, Cacilda Jetha

Sex at Dawn challenges conventional wisdom about sex in a big way. By examining the prehistoric origins of human sexual behavior the authors are able to expose the fallacies and weaknesses of standard theories proposed by most experts. This is a provocative, entertaining, and pioneering book. I learned a lot from it and recommend it highly.” — Andrew Weil, M.D.

 “Sex at Dawn irrefutably shows that what is obvious—that human beings, both male and female, are lustful—is true, and has always been so…. The more dubious its evidentiary basis and lack of connection with current reality, the more ardently the scientific inevitability of monogamy is maintained—even as it falls away around us.” — Stanton Peele, Ph.D.

A controversial, idea-driven book that challenges everything you (think you) know about sex, monogamy, marriage, and family. In the words of Steve Taylor (The Fall, Waking From Sleep), Sex at Dawn is “a wonderfully provocative and well-written book which completely re-evaluates human sexual behavior and gets to the root of many of our social and psychological ills.”

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061707803
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 06/29/2010
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 483,136
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Christopher Ryan, PhD, is a research psychologist. He lives in Barcelona, Spain.

Cacilda Jethá, MD, is a practicing psychiatrist. She lives in Barcelona, Spain.

What People are Saying About This

Eric Michael Johnson

“Sex At Dawn is a provocative and engaging synthesis... that has the added benefit of being a joy to read.... A book sure to generate discussion, and one likely to produce more than a few difficult conversations with family marriage counselors.”

Stanton Peele

“Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha have written the essential corrective to the evolutionary psychology literature...”

Steve Taylor

“A wonderfully provocative and well-written book which completely re-evaluates human sexual behaviour and gets to the root of many of our social and psychological ills.”

Stanley Krippner

“This paradigm-shifting book is a thoroughly original discussion of the origins and nature of human sexuality... These authors have a gift for making complex material reader-friendly, filling each chapter with humor and passion as well as dozens of revolutionary insights.”

Frans de Waal

“You clearly have an exciting book on your hands, whether people agree with it or not: these are issues that will need debating over and over before we will arrive at a resolution.”

Andrew Weil

“Sex At Dawn challenges conventional wisdom about sex in a big way... This is a provocative, entertaining, and pioneering book. I learned a lot from it and recommend it highly.”

Dan Savage

“Sex At Dawn is the single most important book about human sexuality since Alfred Kinsey unleashed Sexual Behavior in the Human Male on the American public in 1948.”

Tony Perrottet

“One of the most original books I’ve read in years, Sex at Dawn manages to be both enormously erudite and wildly entertaining—even, frequently, hilarious. . . . A must-read for anyone interested in where our sexual impulses come from.”

Customer Reviews

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Sex at Dawn 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 110 reviews.
BBW_ More than 1 year ago
This book is fantastic!!! Sure to catch on... A fascinating eye-opener that addresses questions about human sexuality that we've nearly all come across -- it may finally answer things you've always wondered about! It takes a close look at the origins of our prehistoric past to examine the sharing, egalitarian nature of the communal groups we evolved in, and how far we've come so far from that now in our modern, often conflicted constructs. The evidence is carefully researched, and the stories are captivating - taking you across history and across the globe as well, recounting fascinating anecdotes on sexual practices from cultures all over the world and examining the many surprising alternative approaches there have been to the same core issues. And it's all explained in language that's sharply intelligent -- and still fun, clear, and easy to follow. This brilliant debut -- by a husband/wife team, no less! -- sheds light on how understanding the way human sexuality evolved is critical to answering questions about our lives today. Why is long-term sexual monogamy so difficult for many couples? Why do middle-aged men risk so much for meaningless flings? What do our own bodies tell us about our sexual evolution? This book takes you on a journey that covers topics from the Origins of War to the peaceful, sexy nature of our close Bonobo cousins. If you've never picked up a text on evolutionary psychology, this is the perfect book to explain some fascinating concepts. If you're curious to travel a road that whisks you across the world to learn about exotic cultures and across time to explore our promiscuous past - you might enjoy this immensely. You could just come away knowing more about human nature - and about yourself as well!
SugarLane8178 More than 1 year ago
This book was fascinating. His theory seems very plausible and he presents it in a very entertaining way.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was compulsively interesting, well documented and genuinely fun to read. You'll feel alot better about yourself and unsettled about the supposed benefits of civilization after reading it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book changed my life. Well, not really. It more just confirmed what's painfully obvious to anyone who's paying attention and not caught up in one of a million contemporary hang-ups: people were not meant to be monogamous. Not men, not women, not gays, not bisexuals, not straight people, not Westerners, not Asians, not Africans.... No one. The fact that they had to write a book about this, contradicting America's moral authorities with the only thing that makes them burn (science), is a testament as to how so many people can accept a ridiculous idea without examining it. It's not a technical book. I'm not an anthropologist but I understood the argument. While some of the humor is a bit American Pie, the argument is proved. The most scathing criticism I found of this book is that anthropologists don't really say that humans are by nature monogamous, which doesn't do anything to disprove the main point. The perspective isn't "Be a slut" but more "Do whatever you want, but realize what humans were doing for 95% of the species existence is probably not how you're trying to live your life." The tone itself is a useful antidote to sexual moralizing.
voluptuary_manque More than 1 year ago
Great fun to read and very stimulating. Despite the denunciations of the patriarchialists and those insistent on the biological imperative of monogamy, the authors provide a vast number of exceptions and reanimate the concept of primal omnigamy. Would that Western Civilization would catch on!
dr827 More than 1 year ago
Just one of the greatest books I have ever read. This should be mandatory reading for anybody who wants to be in a relationship. Just so fantastic. I could not recommend this book more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A must read for people in alternative lifestyles and those that don't understand them.
Megan Fates More than 1 year ago
What a provocative book for our book club!!!   Real insights into beliefs, attitude and the role of religion and tribal mores. A definite keeper for one's personal library and an intelligent way to explore ideas with others.
Bacio More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. I normally don't read non-fiction but I loved the sarcastic tone sprinkled throughout this novel. I am open minded, so to read a different perspective on this topic was refreshing. Their ideas are not forced onto the reader, they are merely presented with facts to back them up. Finished this in about a week. And honestly I would have finished it sooner but I actually took a day or two in between reads to think about what I have just read.
Gnosisseeker More than 1 year ago
If you have ever thought of why people act the way they do when it comes to relationships and human social interaction then this would be the book to read. It is very well written with a lot of resources that you can look at yourself to see where the authors find their information. It is not written in a dry form like some other books written on this topic, but written like a person looking for answers. This book will open your mind at why we look at sex as we do and why over time we get bored with a long term partner and could warder off looking for something new (this goes for both sexes). It takes a look at why monogamy is failing with people separating without working on underlining issues or not looking at options at keeping their relationship intact. This is look from both a physical as well as psychology view. There is so many different topics in this book a review cannot cover them all. It is a book better read with the reader drawing their own conclusions on what the author's message is and what he wants the reader to know.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very readable, with a wry wit and a no nonsense approach to human and ape sexuality. This book is very well researched, and spends a fair bit of time on debunking the conventional wisdom. I suspect that it might be a bit scary to take on the established views on such a hot button topic, but the author manages to insert enough humor to help defuse the tension.
AndrewReadsBooks 5 months ago
Sex Before Dawn, by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha, is a befuddling book. It sets out to do three things - to challenge the belief that humans evolved as a monogamous species, to argue that agriculture and industrialization have forced us into monogamous patterns that cause relationship discord, and to suggest an alternative model of multipartner mating patterns for human beings. To do this, they propose an examination of the sexual behaviors of hunter gatherer tribal groups, great apes, and a review of archaeological evidence. While the authors do provide some strong arguments and evidence, other parts of their work don't stand up to scrutiny, and I would be very cautious about drawing strong conclusions. The core problem of the book is their logical errors. The authors doe a good job of making their first two arguments in the book - they suggest through primate and tribal group studies that humans are not necessarily monogamous, and that monogamous patterns wouldn't have been advantageous for early humans. They highlight that social adaptations and flexibility in humans would likely have led to more promiscuous patterns, not dissimilar from bonobos. The authors succeed in showing that the onset of agriculture, industry, and capitalism would create new types of insecurity that would make monogamous mating strategies more advantageous (though this seems to downplay the existence of property rights in pre-agricultural societies, which doesn't mesh well with the fossil record). But then, inexplicably, the authors downplay the flexibility of human sexual behavior, suggesting that our early adaptations to promiscuous patterns necessitate continued promiscuity. This is particularly frustrating because, early in the book, the authors use the flexibility of human sexual behavior to challenge the traditional narrative of genetic competition. It seems they want to have their cake and eat it too. The other problem with the book is in the writing. Readers will come to the end of a well written and researched section on a complex topic, and then the authors will pepper in incorrect or grossly missummarized "facts" from other fields (for example, the authors seem to be unaware of the entire academic field of family studies and rely purely on pop culture images of marriage counselors), and then pepper in crude jokes that are tonally jarring. These make it hard for a reader to feel like the authors are really credible - if they're making errors on easily verifiable claims about child abuse risk or divorce statistics, and then punctuating it with dick jokes, then why should we give credence to their nuanced claims about copulatory vocalizations? Again, I don't want to dismiss the book out of hand - I do think there are good points and information hidden within it. But I don't think there's enough here to support the author's case, and I don't think the authors have fully thought through their logic. When they do, a more rigorous and better edited book could make a real impact.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I would definitely Recommend this book
Mellie37 More than 1 year ago
Lots of detailed information from many sources, pretty interesting, would recommend
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sure. Meet me at hot stuff res 2
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thanks. Kisses your cheek. Smiles. Thats exactly what i wanted to hear.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm here"
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Any girls with tiny b00bs come to jay res five for some fun ;)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Walks in
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Heyyy whas up
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Suck my boobs and pull out your dick. Lets do it.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it!!! Finally a fresh look at sex and a huge eye-opener! Must read!!!!