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Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst Paperback – 5 April 2018

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Product details

  • Language : English
  • Paperback : 800 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 009957506X
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0099575061
  • Customer reviews:
    5.0 out of 5 stars 1 rating

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Review

Sapolsky's book shows in exquisite detail how culture, context and learning shape everything our genes, brains, hormones and neurons do * Times Literary Supplement * Robert Sapolsky's students must love him ... witty, erudite and passionate about clear communication ... the implications of fascinating scientific findings are illuminated through topical stories ... then Sapolsky reaches for the big, synthetic pay-offs, examining how, together, these insights can enhance our understanding of the forces that lead to tribalism, violence, dehumanization and war - as well as tolerance, empathy and peace ... The analysis is arresting and the writing is often moving ... It is impossible not to deeply admire a project bold entire to ask an entire field to work to create a more just and peaceful world * Nature * One of the finest natural history writers around * The New York Times * Marvellous. Behave gives us the knowledge of how to manifest more of our best selves and less of our worst, individually and as a society -- Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit As wide as it is deep, this book is colorful, electrifying, and moving. Sapolsky leverages his deep expertise to ask the most fundamental questions about being human -- David Eagleman, author of Incognito Behave is like a great historical novel, with excellent prose and encylopedic detail. It traces the most important story that can ever be told -- E O Wilson One of the best scientist-writers of our time -- Oliver Sacks A great writer and a superb guide to human nature, Sapolsky shows you how all the perspectives and systems connect, and he makes you laugh and marvel along the way. A beautifully crafted work about the biology of morality -- Jonathan Haidt, author of The Righteous Mind A miraculous book, by far the best treatment of violence, aggression, and competition ever. Its depth and breadth of scholarship are amazing, building on Sapolsky's own research and his vast knowledge of the neurobiology, genetic, and behavioral literature. All this is done brilliantly with a light and funny touch that shows why Sapolsky is recognized as one of the greatest teachers in science today -- Paul Ehrlich, author of Human Natures Rarely does an almost 800-page book keep my attention from start to finish, but Behave is exceptional in its scale, scope, detail and writing style ... Sapolsky places what makes us special in the wider context of humans as animals with brains that are fundamentally similar to those of other species. It is the first book that does so comprehensively enough to qualify as a guide to human behaviour -- Frans de Waal * Science * Truly all-encompassing ... detailed, accessible, fascinating * Telegraph * Magisterial ... This extraordinary survey of the science of human behaviour takes the reader on an epic journey ... Sapolsky makes the book consistently entertaining, with an infectious excitement at the puzzles he explains ... a miraculous synthesis of scholarly domains -- Steven Poole * Guardian * Behave is the best detective story ever written, and the most important. If you've ever wondered why someone did something - good or bad, vicious or generous - you need to read this book. If you think you already know why people behave as they do, you need to read this book. In other words, everybody needs to read it. It should be available on prescription (side effects: chronic laughter; highly addictive). They should put Behave in hotel rooms instead of the Bible: the world would be a much better, wiser place -- Kate Fox, author of Watching the English It's no exaggeration to say that Behave is one of the best nonfiction books I've ever read * Wall Street Journal * Awe-inspiring ... This is the best scientific book written for non-specialists that I have ever read. You will learn more about human nature than in any other book I can think of, and you will be inspired -- Henry Marsh, author of Do No Harm

About the Author

Robert M. Sapolsky holds degrees from Harvard and Rockefeller Universities and is currently a Professor of Biology and Neurology at Stanford University and a Research Associate with the Institute of Primate Research, National Museums of Kenya. He is the author of The Trouble with Testosterone, Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers (both finalists for the LA Times Book Award), and A Primate's Memoir. Sapolsky has contributed to Natural History, Discover, Men's Health, and Scientific American, and is a recipient of a MacArthur Foundation genius grant.

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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars 533 reviews
Odysseus at home
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply one of the best I've read ever
22 October 2017 - Published on Amazon.com
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5.0 out of 5 stars Simply one of the best I've read ever
Reviewed in the United States on 22 October 2017
It took me twelve days to read this book. I'm a Chilean reader so my English is no native and it's hard for me to understand everything, but this book deserved to retry any time I couldn't catch the entire meaning of a sentence or an idea. Robert Sapolsky writes as a lecturer. The reader is seated in the classroom and he's the professor who talks, so you feel very comfortable listening him and, more than that, you feel welcome by him. He's so natural and informal that you feel that a distance has been abolished, and this is just what is needed to capture the very essence of this tremendous achievement.

The book is about "us" and "them," and how our biology has modeled us to to replicate and to live this duality as an inexorable destiny. That's the reason why Sapolsky in a very smart design of the book dedicates the thirteen first (out of seventeen) chapters in describing to you how does our brains (and by extension our biology) to produce a human being with all that it means. And it means a lot. More than I can say here. Thus, the first thirteen chapters of the book leave you with the sensation that we are all design to be just the way we are. So nothing to be much optimistic here.

There's (for me at least) a tipping point in the book that synthesizes everything. It is in page 448 and shows you a graph that plots the "proportion of rulings in favor of the prisoners by ordinal position [i.e., the order in which they were heard by the judge]," with "points [indicating] the first decision in each of the three decisions sessions." Well, the thing is that "in a study of more than 1,100 judicial rulings, prisoners were granted parole at about a 60 percent rate when judges had recently eaten, and at essentially a 0 percent rate just before judges ate... Justice may be blind, but she's sure sensitive to her stomach gurgling."

Well, there you are. And this is just one example, there are dozens before and after indicating how sensible we are to the environment, the internal and the external one, something that Sapolsky summarize at the end of the book: "...we haven't evolved to be "selfish" or "altruistic" or anything else--we've evolved to be particular ways in particular settings. Context, context, context."

As long as you read you think that the book was written to let you know how remarkably open AND close is our nature, in such a way that we are condemned to suffer our tremendous limitations: there is no way out (or in). Yes, as Sapolsky says, it's complicated. In fact, that could have been the title of the book. But that would have lessened the final chapters which are like the cracks in the wall through which a silver lining filters. The thing is that you didn't expect what Sapolsky tells you there.

This is not a detectives novel so what's the point in not commenting what's there for everyone of us? Well, I guess that the point is I shouldn't deprive you of discovering by yourself as I did. Yes, I'm talking here of the pleasure that renders the experience of something that sounds (even in a scientific manner) like a revelation. And that is: at the end of the book you see...

I'm sure that other reviewers have revealed everything in order to criticize some points here and there. I guess that could be several, but to me that's not the point. The point is that Behave has not been written to convince you, not at all. Behave has been written to show you. Behave is not a book is a window as I suppose any great book is.

As I said, I'm Chilean and here, in my country, are hundreds of political prisoners that haven't the minimal chance of being paroled. Not even that light ray that could traverse a crack in a wall. Not even that. They have no chance. Unfortunately this book is not going to be translated to Spanish. And if it is, it's not going to arrive to our commercial and poor (intellectually speaking) bookstores. My country is a very quiet one compared with the rest of the world. Nobody even notice it, so quiet it is. We are like Switzerland bur without the money. And with the political prisoners they don't have.

Sapolsky it's not going to change nothing, but that's not the point, I insist: the point is that things are going to change anyway because history tells so. The thing is that we could do something to hurry the future. I don't know how. Sapolsky either. And what about you?

Read this book if you are interested into thinking how does it feel not to be the good guy you think you are most of the time. In a sentence: how does it feel to be human.

And it feels good.

Five highly deserved stars.
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