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Love at Goon Park: Harry Harlow and the Science of Affectionby Deborah Blum
Synopses & Reviews
In this meticulously researched and masterfully written book, Pulitzer Prize-winner Deborah Blum examines the history of love through the lens of its strangest unsung hero: a brilliant, fearless, alcoholic psychologist named Harry Frederick Harlow. Pursuing the idea that human affection could be understood, studied, even measured, Harlow (1905-1981) arrived at his conclusions by conducting research-sometimes beautiful, sometimes horrible-on the primates in his University of Wisconsin laboratory. Paradoxically, his darkest experiments may have the brightest legacy, for by studying "neglect" and its life-altering consequences, Harlow confirmed love's central role in shaping not only how we feel but also how we think. His work sparked a psychological revolution. The more children experience affection, he discovered, the more curious they become about the world: Love makes people smarter. The biography of both a man and an idea, The Measure of Love is a powerful and at times disturbing narrative that will forever alter our understanding of human relationships.
"Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Blum rivetingly recounts Harlow's work while examining the man himself....[Harlow] is little known today outside the scientific community. Blum's excellent biography, the first major new work devoted to him, should change that. Highly recommended..." Library Journal
"In her 1994 book, The Monkey Wars...Blum superbly balanced opposing views of the incendiary issue of primate vivisection. In Love at Goon Park, Blum does an equally skillful job balancing the pictures of that psychologist, Harry Harlow, as troubled soul and brutal abuser of his experimental subjects versus helper of humankind through brilliant science....It's an irresistible story told exceedingly well." Robert Sapolsky, Scientific American
"Blum integrates clear explanations of the theories Harlow was reacting against (such as behaviorism) with details about his fractured home and personal life. An informative, candid biography." Gilbert Taylor, Booklist
"[I]t's a wonderfully written and maddening book, provoking, by turns, both delight and horror. Blum's greatest feat — more so than having written the type of cultural history that tingles with the discovery of new ideas — is that you neither worship nor revile Harry Harlow by the end of Love at Goon Park. You are humbled by his brilliant work, torn apart over his cruel methods and ultimately grateful to live, and love, in a post-Harlow age." Suzy Hansen, Salon.com
Book News Annotation:
Blum (journalism, U. of Wisconsin) won the 1992 Pulitzer Prize for her writing about primate experiments and ethics. A chapter in her The Monkey Wars profiled psychologist Harry Harlow (1905-81) as a villain of the animals rights movement. Here, in a full biography, she views him as a pioneer in demonstrating the vital importance of relationships and love to health and survival.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
In this meticulously researched and masterfully written book, Pulitzer Prize-winner Blum examines the history of love through the lens of its strangest unsung hero: a brilliant, fearless, alcoholic psychologist named Harry Frederick Harlow in a powerful and disturbing narrative that will forever alter the understanding of human relationships.
The remarkable story of how one of the twentieth century's most important and controversial psychologists revolutionized our understanding of love
Includes bibliographical references (p. 309-326) and index.
About the Author
Deborah Blum is a professor of journalism at the University of Wisconsin and Vice President of the National Association of Science Writers. She won a Pulitzer Prize in 1992 for her newspaper reporting about primate experiments and ethics, the subject of her acclaimed first book, The Monkey Wars.
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