Why has aggressive war occurred so frequently in human history? Wrangham and Peterson note disturbing similarities between patterns of violent aggression in both human and chimpanzee societies, as well as the startling lack of such violence among bonobos, who are also closely related genetically to both humans and chimps. The authors go on to offer a compelling theory of how and why those traits emerged. Hint: It’s related to a significant change in the earth’s climate during a key phase in the evolution of our respective species in Africa.
Whatever their virtues, men are more violent than women. Why do men kill, rape, and wage war, and what can we do about it? Demonic Males offers startling new answers to these questions. Drawing on the latest discoveries about human evolution and about our closest living relatives, the great apes, the book unfolds a compelling argument that the secrets of a peaceful society may well be, first, a sharing of power between males and females, and second, a high level and variety of sexual activity, both homosexual and heterosexual. Dramatic, vivid, and sometimes shocking, but firmly grounded in meticulous scientific research, Demonic Males will stir controversy and debate. It will be required reading for anyone concerned about the spiral of violence undermining human society.
About the Author
Dale Peterson is the coauthor with Jane Goodall of Visions of Caliban (a New York Times Notable Book and a Library Journal Best Book) and the editor of her two books of letters, Africa in My Blood and Beyond Innocence. His other books include The Deluge and the Ark, Chimpanzee Travels, Storyville USA, Eating Apes, and (with Richard Wrangham) Demonic Males. They have been distinguished as an Economist Best Book, a Discover Top Science Book, a Bloomsbury Review Editor's Favorite, a Village Voice Best Book, and a finalist for the PEN New England Award and the Sir Peter Kent Conservation Book Prize in England. He resides in Massachusetts.
Wrangham ia a professor of biological anthropology at Harvard University.
"The heroes of this fascinating account of primate behavior and evolution are bonobos, members of a species closely related to both humans and chimpanzees but distinguished by its comparatively nonviolent and relatively egalitarian social structure. Wrangham and Peterson look to studies of bonobo social organization and behavior for insight into social mechanisms to control human violence. The influence of sociobiology is evident at every step in the authors' (which the authors dub "Galton's error"). The book is an accessible, gripping, sometimes surprising account of the depth and extent of violent behavior among primates as well as a provocative discussion of its origins and possible remedies." Booklist, ALA