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Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst Reprint Edition
Contributor(s): Sapolsky, Robert M.

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ISBN: 0143110918     ISBN-13: 9780143110910
Publisher: Penguin Group USA
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Binding Type: Paperback
Published: May 2018
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Annotation: The New York Times bestseller

“It’s no exaggeration to say that Behave is one of the best nonfiction books I’ve ever read.” —David P. Barash, The Wall Street Journal

"It has my vote for science book of the year.” Parul Sehgal, The New York Times

"Hands-down one of the best books I’ve read in years. I loved it." —Dina Temple-Raston, The Washington Post

Named a Best Book of the Year by The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal 


From the celebrated neurobiologist and primatologist, a landmark, genre-defining examination of human behavior, both good and bad, and an answer to the question: Why do we do the things we do?

Sapolsky's storytelling concept is delightful but it also has a powerful intrinsic logic: he starts by looking at the factors that bear on a person's reaction in the precise moment a behavior occurs, and then hops back in time from there, in stages, ultimately ending up at the deep history of our species and its evolutionary legacy.
 
And so the first category of explanation is the neurobiological one. A behavior occurs--whether an example of humans at our best, worst, or somewhere in between. What went on in a person's brain a second before the behavior happened? Then Sapolsky pulls out to a slightly larger field of vision, a little earlier in time: What sight, sound, or smell caused the nervous system to produce that behavior? And then, what hormones acted hours to days earlier to change how responsive that individual is to the stimuli that triggered the nervous system? By now he has increased our field of vision so that we are thinking about neurobiology and the sensory world of our environment and endocrinology in trying to explain what happened.

Sapolsky keeps going: How was that behavior influenced by structural changes in the nervous system over the preceding months, by that person's adolescence, childhood, fetal life, and then back to his or her genetic makeup? Finally, he expands the view to encompass factors larger than one individual. How did culture shape that individual's group, what ecological factors millennia old formed that culture? And on and on, back to evolutionary factors millions of years old. 

The result is one of the most dazzling tours d'horizon of the science of human behavior ever attempted, a majestic synthesis that harvests cutting-edge research across a range of disciplines to provide a subtle and nuanced perspective on why we ultimately do the things we do...for good and for ill. Sapolsky builds on this understanding to wrestle with some of our deepest and thorniest questions relating to tribalism and xenophobia, hierarchy and competition, morality and free will, and war and peace. Wise, humane, often very funny, Behave is a towering achievement, powerfully humanizing, and downright heroic in its own right.
Additional Information
BISAC Categories:
- Science | Life Sciences
- Social Science | Criminology
Dewey: 570
Academic/Grade Level: General Adult
Book type: Non-Fiction
Physical Information: 8.50" H x 6.00" W x 1.75" (1.50 lbs) 790 pages
 
Descriptions, Reviews, Etc.

Contributor Bio(s): Robert M. Sapolsky is the author of several works of nonfiction, including A Primate's Memoir, The Trouble with Testosterone, and Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers. He is a professor of biology and neurology at Stanford University and the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation genius grant. He lives in San Francisco with his wife, two children and dogs.

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly Reviews (PW Reviews 2017 March #3)

Sapolsky (Monkeyluv), professor of biology at Stanford, looks at human behavior from myriad interrelated perspectives, endeavoring to explain humans' strange and often contradictory behavior. He predominantly focuses on exploring "the biology of violence, aggression, and competition" through the lenses of neuroscience, anthropology, psychology, genetics, evolutionary biology, political science, and communication theory. Sapolsky takes complex ideas from the scientific literature, including his own research, and attempts to balance the pros and cons of every conclusion. He weaves science storytelling with humor to keep readers engaged while advancing his main point about the complexity and interconnectedness of all aspects of behavior. For Sapolsky, context is everything. For example, in discussing genetics he urges readers to "repeat the mantra: don't ask what a gene does; ask what it does in a particular context." Understanding such complexity can potentially lead toward a more just and peaceful society, Sapolsky says. He recognizes that this ambition may "seem hopeless" but argues that it is essential. Finally, he contends and demonstrates that "you don't have to choose between being scientific and being compassionate." Sapolsky's big ideas deserve a wide audience and will likely shape thinking for some time. Agent: Katinka Matson, Brockman Inc. (May)

Copyright 2017 Publisher Weekly.
 
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