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"Many of Our Worst Behaviors Are in Retreat"



(p. A19) Mr. Sapolsky is one of those very few eminent scientists who are also eminent--or even coherent--when writing for the general public.


. . .


The author's comprehensive approach integrates controlled laboratory investigation with naturalistic observations and study. To his immense credit, he doesn't omit cultural norms, social learning, the role of peer pressure or historical tradition. He also has a delightfully self-deprecating sense of humor. Introducing a chapter titled "War and Peace," he summarizes the chapter's goals as: (a) to demonstrate that "many of our worst behaviors are in retreat, our best ones ascendant"; (b) to examine "ways to improve this further"; (c) to derive "emotional support for this venture" (d) and, "finally, to see if I can actually get away with calling this chapter 'War and Peace.' " Earlier, after an especially abstruse sentence, he adds a footnote: "I have no idea what it is that I just wrote."


. . .


It's no exaggeration to say that "Behave" is one of the best nonfiction books I've ever read. .



For the full review, see:

David P. Barash. "BOOKSHELF; How the Brain Makes Us Do It; Biology can explain but not excuse our worst behavior; Testosterone may drive a vicious warlord, but social triggers shape his actions." The Wall Street Journal (Tues., May 2, 2017): A19.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the review has the date May 1, 2017.)


The book under review, is:

Sapolsky, Robert M. Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst. New York: Penguin Press 2017.






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