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Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Menby Mara Hvistendahl
Synopses & Reviews
Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize
A Slate Best Book of 2011
A Discover Magazine Best Book of 2011
Lianyungang, a booming port city, has China's most extreme gender ratio for children under four: 163 boys for every 100 girls. These numbers don't seem terribly grim, but in ten years, the skewed sex ratio will pose a colossal challenge. By the time those children reach adulthood, their generation will have twenty-four million more men than women.
The prognosis for China's neighbors is no less bleak: Asia now has 163 million females "missing" from its population. Gender imbalance reaches far beyond Asia, affecting Georgia, Eastern Europe, and cities in the U.S. where there are significant immigrant populations. The world, therefore, is becoming increasingly male, and this mismatch is likely to create profound social upheaval.
Historically, eras in which there have been an excess of men have produced periods of violent conflict and instability. Mara Hvistendahl has written a stunning, impeccably-researched book that does not flinch from examining not only the consequences of the misbegotten policies of sex selection but Western complicity with them.
"This extraordinary debut from Mara Hvistendahl, award-winning writer and correspondent for Science magazine, reveals the fascinating yet terrifying state of sex ratio imbalance. Drawing on research and her experience living in China, where the one-child policy still holds sway, Hvistendahl nimbly shifts between quantitative data and ethnographic reports. As brides or prostitutes, women in Asia, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East are still treated as a commodity. With an estimated 160 million females missing from the Asian population, there is the added crisis of 'surplus men,' thus causing 'rampant demographic masculinization,' and carrying with it the possibility of increased social instability and violence. By analyzing sociological trends between affluence and birth, especially amidst the current boom of China and India, and providing sound historical overviews of how cultural traditions and governmental policies have evolved, Hvistendahl reveals the true extent of entrenched ideologies and moreover, the lack of intervention from oblivious officials. Her exposÃ© on prenatal sex selection brims with bold judgments that shed light on a culturally sensitive issue. A definitive text on demographic change and its startling consequences that is both thorough and thoroughly engaging. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
A shocking exposé of the causes of Asia's massive gender imbalance and its consequences across the globe
About the Author
Mara Hvistendahl's writing has appeared in Harper's, The New Republic, Scientific American, the Financial Times magazine, Popular Science, Foreign Policy, and the Los Angeles Times. A correspondent for the Chronicle of Higher Education and former contributing editor at Seed magazine, Mara has won an Education Writers Association award and been nominated for the Newswomen's Club of New York Front Page Award. She first lived in Asia over a decade ago, when her studies took her to Beijing. She has spent half of the years since then in China, a base from which she reported extensively from around the continent.
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