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This title in other editions

A Natural History of Love

by

A Natural History of Love Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The bestselling author of A Natural History of the Senses now explores the allure of adultery, the appeal of aphrodisiacs, and the cult of the kiss. Enchantingly written and stunningly informed, this "audaciously brilliant romp through the world of romantic love" (Washington Post Book World) is the next best thing to love itself.

Review:

"Following up her well-received A Natural History of the Senses, poet and journalist Ackerman less successfully attempts to limn the complex emotion of love for the general reader. Her perspective is both long — beginning with the first writings about love from ancient Egypt and Greece — and wide, encompassing love of pets, religious fervor and altruism, along with her principle focus on romantic love. Ackerman's impassioned prose occasionally takes on a purple cast ('Love feeds a million watchfires in the encampment of the body,' she observes in a discussion of how love is often felt as a burning), but seems well suited to both the topic and her often personalized approach. Chronicling the changing views of love through mostly Western history from Roman times through the Middle Ages and the era of Romanticism to the present, she cites the writings of Plato, Proust and Freud, among others. Delving into anthropology, psychology and neurology, as well as literature, she considers the social and evolutionary roles of love, marraige rituals and such love objects as horses and cars. Ackerman's overview is more selective than comprehensive, but that very idiosyncracy may add to the popular appeal of the volume, sections of which have previously appeared in Parade and the New York Times Magazine." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"[E]xplores the neurophysiology of love and exposes the components of modern-day relationships, from the 'New Age Sensitive Guy'' to sexual chic." Library Journal

Review:

"[Ackerman] glides from the peaks of poetry to the secretive valleys of science to the plains of personal musings with ease, apparent pleasure, and a frankly feminine form of confidence." Booklist

Review:

"Beginning with a somewhat interesting history of ancient mythological love, Ackerman's...book quickly degenerates into a regurgitation of stereotypes about differences between men and women." Kirkus Reviews

Synopsis:

US

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Robert J. Miller, July 20, 2006 (view all comments by Robert J. Miller)
A splendid idea, this. I hear "Natural History" and think of a museum where scientific observation and thought are pulled together to explain the world. Of "Love", I'd like to understand what emotions and feelings birds have as they do their mating dances, or octopi as they flash colors at each other. I say that my dog "loves" me, but is that love like what I feel for my wife? Perhaps we are, like my dog, just pack animals whose nervous systems respond to others of our kind to produce the requisite endorphins of the moment? I've waited for a good book that would help me understand all this.

I'm still waiting.

"Natural History" is a misnomer. Bait and switch, I'd call it. This is a loosely organized collection of history, legends, and stories, better suited to demonstrating Ackerman's erudition than to actually informing. There are excursions into science, but they are thin and sometimes blatantly wrong. A bad example was Ackerman's use of a 1972 study by anthropologist Colin Turnbull of the Ik (pronuunced "Eek") people of Uganda. Here was a tribe that had forgotten how to love, and were therefore headed toward imminent extinction. Ackerman spends five pages on their terrible state and inevitable fate. The only trouble is, this was a put forward as a study with extraordinary conclusions, and that requires replication and extraordinary care to validate the conclusions. That's a rule that serious scientists learn to work by. A Google search turns up several studies from 1986 to 1992 that simply do not support Turnbull's work. Turnbull was wrong. The Ik survive, and are doing better than they were in 1972. Turnbull wrote a sensationalist book and doubtless made money, but it was bad science. Ackerman's five pages on his work look really stupid. If her prose had not been so purple, her conclusions not so magisterial, it would have been excusable, but she is nearer the works of Lord Bulwer-Lytton than to the serious and informative work I noped for.

This is a thoroughly bad book. I read a few chapters, skimmed the rest (with the help of the index) and dumped it into the library's fund-raiser box, along with Ackerman's (unread) "Natural History of the Senses." I don't have time to waste on stuff like this.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780679761839
Author:
Ackerman, Diane
Publisher:
Vintage Books
Location:
New York :
Subject:
General
Subject:
History
Subject:
Psychology
Subject:
Sexuality
Subject:
Love
Subject:
Love & Romance
Subject:
Man-woman relationships
Subject:
Human Sexuality
Subject:
Man-woman relationships -- History.
Subject:
Love -- History.
Subject:
General Nature
Subject:
Self-Help/Relationships
Subject:
love;history;non-fiction;science;essays;natural history;psychology;sexuality;biology;sociology;relationships;anthropology;social history;culture;cultural studies;geekery;gender;american
Subject:
love;history;non-fiction;science;natural history;essays;psychology;biology;sexuality;sociology;relationships;anthropology;social history;american;cultural studies;nature;geekery;culture;gender
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series:
Vintage
Series Volume:
74
Publication Date:
19950231
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
384
Dimensions:
8.10x5.49x.94 in. .73 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » General
Health and Self-Help » Psychology » Cognitive Science
Health and Self-Help » Psychology » General
Health and Self-Help » Self-Help » Relationships
Science and Mathematics » Nature Studies » General

A Natural History of Love Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$8.50 In Stock
Product details 384 pages Vintage Books USA - English 9780679761839 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Following up her well-received A Natural History of the Senses, poet and journalist Ackerman less successfully attempts to limn the complex emotion of love for the general reader. Her perspective is both long — beginning with the first writings about love from ancient Egypt and Greece — and wide, encompassing love of pets, religious fervor and altruism, along with her principle focus on romantic love. Ackerman's impassioned prose occasionally takes on a purple cast ('Love feeds a million watchfires in the encampment of the body,' she observes in a discussion of how love is often felt as a burning), but seems well suited to both the topic and her often personalized approach. Chronicling the changing views of love through mostly Western history from Roman times through the Middle Ages and the era of Romanticism to the present, she cites the writings of Plato, Proust and Freud, among others. Delving into anthropology, psychology and neurology, as well as literature, she considers the social and evolutionary roles of love, marraige rituals and such love objects as horses and cars. Ackerman's overview is more selective than comprehensive, but that very idiosyncracy may add to the popular appeal of the volume, sections of which have previously appeared in Parade and the New York Times Magazine." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "[E]xplores the neurophysiology of love and exposes the components of modern-day relationships, from the 'New Age Sensitive Guy'' to sexual chic."
"Review" by , "[Ackerman] glides from the peaks of poetry to the secretive valleys of science to the plains of personal musings with ease, apparent pleasure, and a frankly feminine form of confidence."
"Review" by , "Beginning with a somewhat interesting history of ancient mythological love, Ackerman's...book quickly degenerates into a regurgitation of stereotypes about differences between men and women."
"Synopsis" by , US
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