Synopses & Reviews
How old are you? The more thought you bring to bear on the question, the harder it is to answer. For we age simultaneously in different ways: biologically, psychologically, socially. And we age within the larger framework of a culture, in the midst of a history that predates us and will outlast us. Looked at through that lens, many aspects of late modernity would suggest that we are older than ever, but Robert Pogue Harrison argues that we are also getting startlingly youngerin looks, mentality, and behavior. We live, he says, in an age of juvenescence.
Like all of Robert Pogue Harrison's books, Juvenescence ranges brilliantly across cultures and history, tracing the ways that the spirits of youth and age have inflected each other from antiquity to the present. Drawing on the scientific concept of neotony, or the retention of juvenile characteristics through adulthood, and extending it into the cultural realm, Harrison argues that youth is essential for cultures innovative drive and flashes of genius. At the same time, however, youthwhich Harrison sees as more protracted than everis a luxury that requires the stability and wisdom of our elders and the institutions. While genius liberates the novelties of the future,” Harrison writes, wisdom inherits the legacies of the past, renewing them in the process of handing them down.”
A heady, deeply learned excursion, rich with ideas and insights, Juvenescence could only have been written by Robert Pogue Harrison. No reader who has wondered at our culture's obsession with youth should miss it.
"...a remarkable document of universal interest.... a tour de force, a wonderful, entertaining and informative book." -- Abraham Verghese
"...dazzling.... What you'll see through her eyes will startle and amaze you." -- Marilyn Yalom The New York Times
"The revolution already has a manifesto in the form of the ebullient Woman: An Intimate Geography. There are other female-positive books hitting the stores - but it's Angier who most decisively lifts the concept of the human female out of its traditional oxymoronic status. You gotta love a self-described female chauvinist sow who writes like Walt Whitman crossed with Erma Bombeck and depicts the vagina as a Rorschach with legs. Woman is a delicious cocktail of estrogen and amphetamine designed to pump up the ovaries as well as the cerebral cortex. " Time Magazine
"In Woman, Angier wields her poetic scalpel to explore female biology, and the result is awesome."—Dr. Susan Love, Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book
"[Angier] is my kind of feminist. Unlike, say, Catherine MacKinnon, she has a sense of humor about the war between the sexes. .... It is the open-mindedness of Woman that is so beguiling. Natalie Angier encourages us to celebrate the diversity of human nature and to realize that the process of cultural evolution is only just beginning."—Erica Jong, The New York Observer
"O joy, O rapture unforeseen! Natalie Angier's fascinating book about the female body is a hilarious romp through, well, our innards. In a deliciously irreverent, energetic, and clear writing style, she demystifies and de-mythicizes women's anatomy and biological workings. Along the way, Angier leaves no metaphor unexplored....She reveals the mysterious universe of women's bodies for even the most scientifically impaired souls. Like the evolution she describes, Angier is self-selecting in what she writes about, but her passion for what make us gals tick is infectious. Her explanation of chromosomes veritably sings. Woman: An Intimate Geography will leave the reader, male or female, in sheer awe of the complexity and power of women's bodies."— Ms. Magazine
"A delightfully mischievous yet serious book on the biology of the female body. Mischievous in that the science is interpreted in terms of modern feminism. It is a great read." — Phillip Sharp, MIT professor and Nobel laureate
"A delighted and delightful book, scientifically intelligent, politically astute, and replete with the intense complexity and fascination of biology. The writing is wonderful and the humor and sensibility are as rare as they are welcome."—Perri Klass, M.D.
"Woman is so captivating I couldn't put it down. It is jam-packed with fascinating, carefully researched facts I never knew before about how we women work. Best of all, Angier's abundant sense of humor and colorful writing style make this an irresistible read for everyone interested in women's bodies and women's health."—Miriam E. Nelson, Ph.D., Strong Women Stay Young
"In this witty, learned, adventurous book, Angier gives feminism a cheerful, evolutionary twist. Her deflation of the 'new science of evolutionary psychology' is a brilliant combination of hard science, humor and common sense exactly right."—Katha Pollitt, The Nation
"Angier has brought both her considerable intellect and wry sense of humor to this book. The result is brilliantly accessible and wonderfully subversive."— Dr. Christiane Northrup, Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom
"Having occupied a womans body for nearly sixty years, I didnt think any book would have much to teach me. How wrong I was!" — Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, ethologist and author of The Hidden Life of Dogs
"Passion and intelligence meet in a gorgeous book about what it means to be a woman today, yesterday, and forever. Herein lies a fund of knowledge beautifully conveyed, as well as questions that have yet to be answered." Kirkus Reviews
"It's hard not to sound effusive about Woman: An Intimate Geography, since it's fabulous. Angier's book contains more facts about women than anything I've read since the Boston Women's Health Collective published Our Bodies, Our Selves in 1973. My advice about Woman is, get three copies, one for the beach, one for the bathroom and one to read under the covers with a flashlight." Elle
"To read Woman is to banish the gods of negative body image. It is transformative in the way Our Bodies, Our Selves was in the '70s, and no less radical. In fact, if Our Bodies, Our Selves has become the bible of women's bodies, let Woman: An Intimate Geography be our Shakespeare." Mirabella
"It's exhilarating to follow Angier's subversive logic as she dismantles the misogynist mythologies once advanced as the scientific gospel of the female body and replaces them with theories more congenial with the female soul....Angier's brilliant and witty fantasia will inspire women to believe in their powwers." Boston Globe
"One knows early on one is reading a classic—a text so necessary and abundant aand truuuuue that all efforts of its kind, for decades before and after it, will be measured by it. ... After a careful reading of this essential book, men should pass it along to someone they love-—their sons, daughters ... lovers and spouses. For a fresh look into the life's sciences ... and the pure pleasure of language in service to the facts of life, Angier's Woman is as good as it gets."— Thomas Lynch, Los Angeles Times
"The chief manifesto of the new 'femaleist' thinking, this ebullient and provocative treatise on women's bodies reads like a mixture of Walt Whitman and Erma Bombeck."— Barbara Ehrenreich, TIME cover story, "The Truth About Women's Bodies"
"The book is somehow both digressive and closely reasoned. . . . It's odd and brilliant--clearly the product of thought given time to ripen."
"Harrison has a wonderful way of inspiring, yet he does not extrapolate on current events, and offers no prognosis. In the preface, he says that he confronted a choice whether to either write a very short book or a very long one--readers will wish he had written a longer one."
Details on a Major New Discovery included in a New AfterwordWhy do we look the way we do? Neil Shubin, the paleontologist and professor of anatomy who co-discovered Tiktaalik, the “fish with hands,” tells the story of our bodies as you've never heard it before. By examining fossils and DNA, he shows us that our hands actually resemble fish fins, our heads are organized like long-extinct jawless fish, and major parts of our genomes look and function like those of worms and bacteria. Your Inner Fish makes us look at ourselves and our world in an illuminating new light. This is science writing at its finest—enlightening, accessible and told with irresistible enthusiasm.
A new and updated edition of Natalie Angier's best-selling tour of the female body, published for its fifteen-year anniversary.
With clarity, insight, and panache, Natalie Angier explores that most enigmatic of evolutionary masterpieces, the female body. Incorporating new material on the latest science and changes in our understanding of evolutionary psychology, Angier guides readers through everything from organs to orgasm, hormones to hysterectomies.
In Woman, Angier shows how cultural biases have influenced evolutionary psychology and led to dubious conclusions about “female nature,” such as the idea that women are innately monogamous while men are philanderers. But she doesnt just point fingers; with enlightened subversiveness, she offers a joyful, fresh vision of womanhood. Woman is an essential read for anyone interested in how biology affects who we are—as women, as men, and as human beings.
National Book Award finalist
A New York Times notable book
"A tour de force, a womderful, entertaining and informative book." —Abraham Verghese, New York Times Book Review
After fifteen years in print, Woman remains an essential guide to everything from organs to orgasms and hormones to hysterectomies. With her characteristic clarity, insight, and sheer exuberance of language, bestselling author Natalie Angier cuts through the still prevalent myths and misinformation surrounding the female body, that most enigmatic of evolutionary masterpieces. Woman is a witty and assured narrative tour de force with a reliable grasp of science.
Updated throughout and with a new introduction bringing readers up to date on the latest science in evolutionary psychology and hormone replacement therapy, this new edition of Woman reinvigorates Angier’s joyful vision of womanhood.
About the Author
NATALIE ANGIER writes about biology for the New York Times, where she has won a Pulitzer Prize, the American Association for the Advancement of Science journalism award, and other honors. She is the author of The Beauty of the Beastly, Natural Obsessions, and Woman, named one of the best books of the year by the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, People, National Public Radio, Village Voice, and Publishers Weekly, among others. A New York Times bestseller and National Book Award finalist, Woman is “a text so necessary and abundant and true that all efforts of its kind, for decades before and after it, will be measured by it” (Los Angeles Times Book Review). Angier lives with her husband and daughter outside of Washington, D.C.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Into the Light xxv
Unscrambling the Egg 1
It Begins with One Perfect Solar Cell
The Mosaic Imagination 19
Understanding the “Female” Chromosome
Default Line 40
Is the Female Body a Passive Construct?
The Well-Tempered Clavier 64
On the Evolution of the Clitoris
Suckers and Horns 93
The Prodigal Uterus
MASS HYSTERIA 124
Losing the Uterus
Circular Reasonings 138
The Story of the Breast
Holy Water 162
A Gray and Yellow Basket 182
The Bounteous Ovary
Greasing the Wheels 199
A Brief History of Hormones
Venus in Furs 217
Estrogen and Desire
Mindful Menopause 232
Can We Live Without Estrogen?
Theres No Place Like Notoriety 241
Mothers, Grandmothers, and Other Great Dames
Wolf Whistles and Hyena Smiles 266
Testosterone and Women
Spiking the Punch 294
In Defense of Female Aggression
Cheap Meat 319
Learning to Make a Muscle
Labor of Love 336
The Chemistry of Human Bondage
Of Hoggamus and Hogwash 360
Putting Evolutionary Psychology on the Couch
A Skeptic in Paradise 397
A Call for Revolutionary Psychology