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14 von 15 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich.
am 17. April 2011
I rarely read a book that has so little taboos without being dirty. Thie book covers all aspects of the male and female seuxality and considers them in the length of our evolution. It's not friendly with current social stereotypes, but shows that some aspects of our sexuality have been repressed or falsely interpreted. Also it cleans up with the current values and beliefs of male and female sexuality. It's an eye-opener and and very thourogly researched book and I can only recommend to read it. I devoured it and I think it's fantastic!
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4 von 4 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich.
am 29. Oktober 2013
This was a lucky find. I really just wanted to see what Amazon would spit out if I searched "Sex". After I'd read the accessible part of the introduction online I immediately bought the E-Book and went to it.

Topic: The topic is everyone's favourite topic: Sex. Sex and what could be considered "natural" sexual behaviour. The authors set out (and succeed gloriously in my eyes) to replace the standard picture of human sexual behaviour. Usually the story runs like this. Man impresses woman by beating all competitors in some way (or just rapes her). Man impregnates woman, guards her (or rather his offspring) fiercely, while trying to get as many lucky shots on the side (male adultery). Woman prostitutes herself for social security to one boring but rich guy, then tries to get knocked up by the "bikers in the bar down the road" (female adultery). This is called mixed-mating strategy and stems from our will to proliferate our genes. Monogamy is still also somehow supposedly part of all this. Sounds horrible and weird? Luckily Ryan and Jetha present a heap of very different arguments why this is not "natural" human behaviour, insofar as we didn't act like this for a very long time of our history. All the misery began only 10 000 years ago when we settled down and began to acquire and defend our property...

In fact, the idea of a brutal, poor (etc.) "state of nature" is so comprehensively destroyed that I recommended "Sex at Dawn" for this reason alone to my philosophy undergrads.

This is a (more or less) scientific book, not a guidebook, which is just as well. The fact that we were more like happy, stressfree bonobos just 10 000 years back doesn't erase our upbringing or our culturally imparted values. Just because I now believe that our ancestors didn't know jealousy the way we do, doesn't mean I stopped being jealous. But it can start you thinking about the (pitiful?) state of your emotional surroundings and the ways in which we frame them. So while this is not a philosophy book, it definetly is a philosophical book in the best possible sense.

Style: The authors write a fluid, light style which makes the book an enjoyable read indeed. They can turn a phrase without ever being flippant for the sake of it. Even if you aren't a psychiatrist (Jetha) or a psychologist (Ryan) or anyone working in the fields of evolutionary biology/psychology/anthropology you'll still be able follow every turn and each of the many well presented arguments.

Verdict: Brillantly written, brillantly argued, and in regard to the obvious importance of the topic to our life and happiness, this book is a must-read. It will change your view of human nature, even if some of the details might turn out to inaccurate. If you read one book this year, let it be this one.
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3 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich.
am 4. Februar 2015
either you will love or hate this book. assuming you are truly interested in WHY "classic nuclear families" (i.e. one woman, one man, kid(s)) fail at an agonizingly astonishing rate of 40-50% - then you MUST read this.

in summary: the authors try to emulate aliens and pretend they are observing human sexual and social behavior the first time. or like the first primatologists, who began studying primate's sexual behavior in the wild. (and primates we are!)
then, they try to either eliminate or reverse any subjectivity (which they call "flintstonization"), which could cause observations to be warped or biased so that they better fit western/christian/modern culture and values.

reading this book was a little like: "if you want to see the flowers' true colors, you need to take off your sunglasses".

the key messages have been discussed at length by others here, so I don't need to. but let me warn (or intrigue) you: many of the findings are... controversial, startling, funny, absurd and eye opening to say the least!

my main lesson learned: sex is simultaneously totally over- and underrated.
underrated: sex is (should be!) as important as the air we breathe, the sun we share and the water we drink. it is totally essential to our well-being and all around us and inside us, all the time. men and women alike. as such, we should we enjoying it whenever we can, indeed whenever we want to. women and men.
overrated: just as the air we breathe, sex must not be limited or traded. it is literally "priceless". sex ought to have NO VALUE - which would make it an essential and ubiquitous commodity - just like air. all this fuss about how important sex is and how womens' value is measured based on their promiscuity is just ridiculous. as if someone breathing more air or drinking more water were less valuable than another who doesn't.
If we finally acknowledged that sex is as important as air and should as readly available to anyone who wants/needs it (as air), many relationship, moral and social problems would just evaporate. in to thin air. :-D

after reading this, men will hopefully never use the term "cheap whore" ever again, and women will finally understand that sex is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, nor something to dole out like a reward or rare and valuable tradable commodity.

even if you are an ultra-conservative, religious and strictly monogamous person, you MUST read this book. if only to start up great discussions and arguments at parties. :-)

EDIT: if English is not (one of) your primary language(s), you may find this hard to read. the language is very colloquial and reads more like a conversation, less like an essay. while that makes it highly entertaining and accessible for English speakers, it reduces readability for others. (tried this book on two Germans, both had to give up because it was too hard to understand.)
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TOP 1000 REZENSENTam 30. Juni 2015
Das Buch ist höchst interessant. Es räumt auf mit der alten Evolutionstheorie Darwins, also der Art der Selektion, die nach den heutigen wissenschaftlichen Erkenntnissen gar nicht durch Kämpfe der Männer ausgetragen worden sind, sondern im Inneren des weiblichen Körpers. Die Männer waren also weitaus friedlicher und untereinander kooperativer. Erst durch den Ackerbau und das Anhäufen von Land und Gütern hat sich der Mensch negativ verändert. Schaut man in die Geschichte, so wurde die Monogamie erfunden, um den weiblichen Körper zu kontrollieren, was man leider noch in einigen Kulturen, u.a. mit weiblicher Beschneidung sieht. Die meiste Zeit hat sie auch genau diesem Zweck gedient.
Erst in jüngerer Zeit kamen die Liebesheiraten auf, oft unter Einfluss der Pille, die meiner Erfahrung nach nicht nur die Partnerwahl, sondern sogar die Persönlichkeit der Frau verändert! Ich verlor mein Selbstbewusstsein und wurde devot und unterwürfig, bevor ich schließlich schwere Depressionen davon bekam.

Dass es mal anders war und anders geht und vor allem, dass dies die wahre Natur des Menschen ist, wird mit diesem Buch anhand zahlreicher Studien bewiesen. Die Beweiskette ist eindeutig und durchgehend. Man kann dem nicht widersprechen. Die Scheidungsraten, zerstörten Familien und vielen Alleinerziehenden mit steigender Tendenz sprechen zudem eine Sprache für sich. Allein diese Statistiken belegen schon, dass der Mensch vielleicht willentlich, aber ganz gewiss nicht von Natur aus monogam ist.
Es ist Zeit, dass man gesellschaftliche und moralische Anpassungen vornimmt, die erstens die Kinder unterstützt (mehr Zusammenhalt wie bei den Hunter-Gatherern) und zweitens der wahren Natur des Menschen entspricht, ohne dass man Familien auseinander reißt.

Das Buch sollte meiner Ansicht nach jeder gelesen haben - mit wünschenswerterweise offenem Geist. Hoffentlich gibt es bald eine deutsche Übersetzung.
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3 von 4 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich.
am 8. August 2013
"Sex at Dawn" war für mich ein absoluter "eye-opener" bzgl. vieler Aspekte von Beziehungen, die mir vorher einfach unnatürlich und seltsam vorgekommen sind. Früher dachte ich, das läge an mir und ich selbst wäre einfach "anders" und seltsam. Dank "Sex at Dawn" sind diese Selbstzweifel Schnee von gestern!

Egal ob man das Gefühl hat, dass eine monogame Beziehung nicht alles im Leben sein kann, oder aber ob man unbedingt genau eine solche Beziehung führen will und sich darüber ärgert, wieso das vielen anderen so schwer fällt - Dieses Buch sollte eigentlich jeder Mensch gelesen haben! (Hoffentlich wird es auch Bald ins Deutsche übersetzt)
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am 8. Juni 2015
This book is FILLED with excellence
With critical analysis of the way the dominant social narratives infuse even science - even when people TRY to account for it
It is well, often humorously written and often much more scientifically exact than a lot of people seem to be able to handle
hence - of course - it doesn't get nearly as much "publicity" as you'd hope
because nobody DARE challenge the ideas that keep love, affection and physical release a scarce resource, the threat of not finding "the one" is after all fueling a rather LARGE aspect of our economies

TIP: If you already are against all forms of genital mutilation and have a modicum of empathy, do yourselves a favor and don't read 287, If you still think circumcision is NOTHING, please do read 286 AND 287 for good measure
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am 13. Juli 2015
this book pulls together and reinterprets much of what one has read or heard before about 'human nature' and the evolution of our 'instincts.' It is a fascinating, inspiring and liberating read. I wish I had read it many years ago as it would have certainly had an effect on my decisions around marriage and relationships, in particular with regard to (not) judging my own actions and feelings based mainly on traditional (christian) morality alone, instead of on more scientific, i.e. anthropological, biological, historical etc evidence. We are social creatures in so many more ways that generally acknowledged. There is a great need to look interpret and research these findings further.
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am 27. März 2014
An illuminating and progressive text, convincingly argued with a touch of humour too. I could read this book anywhere it was so lucidly written. In fact, I could hardly put it down (dawn :-)). The authors have a great talent for turning a taboo topic into something everyone can talk about, and have fun doing so.
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7 von 11 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich.
am 19. November 2012
Sex at Dawn unfortunately is not available in german yet but becomes better known now, so i wrote this article which is one of the first german articles about Sex at Dawn. It was first published in german on: [...]

The translated english version below was first published on: [...]

Sex at Dawn – right on the mark or dead wrong? An Essay

When a book like Sex at Dawn by Christopher Ryan (PhD) and his wife Cacilda Jethá (MD), becomes a New York Times bestseller, gets praised as “most important book about human sexuality since Kinsey” and is showered with awards around the world, that is already some indication that it might be worth reading.

If that same book earns some downright hateful rejection including some meritorious scientists like David P. Barash and an otherwise unknown author named Lynn Saxon writes an entire book to reject it, things become even more interesting.

From these completely differing reactions, one gets the impression that Ryan and Jethá must be either right on the mark or dead wrong. In any case, they have raised an issue that evokes strong emotions. To be exact, THE topic of all topics: Sex.

Is Sex really that important?

Oh my god, Sex again, you might groan? Is it really that important? What about the financial crisis, global warming, the threat of war in the Middle East, famines and so on and so forth?

You’re right, all that is very important and urgent. But oddly enough humans spend a lot of time with sex, both doing it and fantasizing about it. This despite and sometimes even inspite of times when we have many serious problems distracting us.

The sex industry is making billions and sex is used even to promote products that are not specifically sex-products. Sex sells and this is true for men and women alike. Just take a look around at how advertising is done. And don’t forget, through sex we procreate, experience great pleasure and unfortunately, often also suffer.

If you keep all this in mind, you may not be so surprised anymore by the claim made by Ryan and Jethá in Sex at Dawn that humans are the most sexualized creatures in the world.

Sex at Dawn puts fundamental beliefs of our society, economy and science in question

Taken alone that claim would not serve to make Sex at Dawn so interesting and controversial. But Sex at Dawn challenges some of the most basic beliefs of many people, cultures and religions, particularly the assumption that human beings are monogamous by nature.

Western culture, so influential in so many aspects of life throughout the world, is based on this very assumption – at least officially. The reality is different, as is shown by statistics on adultery, marriage and divorce, and demonstrated as well by the number of children born to adulterous women, whose partners have no idea they have been cuckolded.

Enforced monogamy is also a fundamental part of Christianity. With about 2.2 billion followers – over seven hundred million more than Islam – Christianity is by far the largest religion in the world. It influences many cultures, even non-Christian ones.

So if someone challenges the conviction that the nature of man is monogamous, as Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá do in Sex at Dawn, it is clear from the start, that it will cause much controversy and even enmity.

The most important book about sex since Kinsey

In spite of all this, Sex at Dawn, published in 2010, received enthusiastic welcome in numerous reviews by journalists and scientists.

Even the leading primatologist Frans de Waal, whose findings were partly criticized by Ryan and Jethá, praised the book. And the most widely read sex columnist of the USA, Dan Savage, called it “The single most important book on human sexuality since Kinsey”. It has been only recently that some of the critics mentioned at the beginning of this article have appeared on the scene, trying to bring about something of a backlash.

The subject of sex is certainly fascinating, but it is not the reason Sex at Dawn is a bestseller. Attacking the core beliefs of a society is also attention-grabbing, but has not made the book so popular. Sex at Dawn sells itself by presenting its theme in an entertaining and easy to understand way in addition to giving abundant new or little-known information, all while remaining scientifically sound.

And last not least, it challenges scientifically, but at times intentionally provocatively, social beliefs as well as scientific authorities such as Jane Goodall and Steven Pinker.

How did early humans live? … And why should I care?

According to Ryan and Jethá, some of the basic assumptions about prehistoric humans – living in poverty and continually fighting for survival – are most probably wrong. But these possibly false assumptions continue to shape science and particularly our ideas of society.

Also the assumption that – as with some other primates – the human males competed for the females and controlled them in harems which they defended jealously is, according to Ryan and Jethá, equally wrong.

The psychologists Christopher Ryan, active in research, and Cacilda Jethá, a physician and therapist with years of experience, have traced the foundations of these beliefs and tried to explain their origin. They consider all of these beliefs to be part of a set of ideas for which they coined the term “standard narrative”. According to this ideology, humans are monogamous by nature and are driven by competition to transmit their genes to their offspring.

At the latest by this point in the book, it becomes obvious that Sex at Dawn is not only about the debate surrounding human sexuality. It goes right to the core of the debate about the driving forces of evolution, the development and shape of our societies and economies – competition or cooperation – and all the many issues related to this. So, ultimately, Sex at Dawn is about the very nature of humans and posits that it might be quite different from what so many authorities have told us so often and for so long and what some are still telling us today.

Why Sex at Dawn is debated so fiercely.

Looking at it this way, it becomes clear why it is not only some of the scientists whom Ryan and Jethá have criticized in their book who have sharply attacked it. Sex at Dawn calls into question social structures, power structures, and of course also some scientific reputations.

If that’s not reason enough to attack Ryan and Jethá, I could also imagine some scientists feeling challenged by Christopher Ryan’s unusual course of life. Ryan's academic career has not been traditional. He worked in all kinds of jobs that had nothing to do with science and only earned his doctorate degree rather late.

And now this outsider comes along and dares to challenge the results and convictions of some of the biggest names in science of past and present times. He even claims to be able to prove they are in error. To some scientists, who worked their way up in the traditional manner, without ever becoming known worldwide or selling books in heaps, this might feel like hearing a loud command: Fire at will!

Sex at Dawn is written in an entertaining way, but with serious and well-documented claims

Although I am an historian and philosopher with an honestly acquired master’s degree – “honestly” meaning: using none of the plagiarism techniques reported in the press lately in connection with degrees issued by German universities – I am not an expert in the scientific fields from which Ryan and Jethá have drawn their conclusions.

I’m also a bit biased on the subject of their book as I have been living in what nowadays is called a polyamorous relationship with a married woman since 2003 – nine years at publication of this article, which means we have been together four years longer than the average duration of a marriage in Germany and some other western societies.

I am also an activist for the inclusion of multiple relationships in our society and for the legalization of polygamous marriages.

Nonetheless, I believe I have enough practice in scientific work and critical review of different kinds of subjects in order to say that Sex at Dawn impresses me as being very well documented. Ryan and Jethá are often even critical of their own ideas and point out uncertainties themselves. Before publication, Ryan and Jethá had their book reviewed by numerous people, among them other scientists, including several whose findings they criticize or interpret in new ways. All this gives the impression that Ryan and Jethá worked hard to ensure accuracy and scientific integrity.

The “alternative-model” to the monogamous nature of man: promiscuous sex as a means for genetic diversity and social bonding

It seems to me that Ryan and Jethá have a well-founded basis for their “alternative-model” to the “humans are monogamous by nature” model. In short, Ryan and Jethá don't believe our ancestors were locked in a constant struggle for survival, control of a harem and warfare with other groups.

Instead, they lived in small groups of peaceful nomads who would find abundant resources of food growing everywhere around them. Their lives were focused on their group. Sharing of all food and resources and intense social interaction were the backbone of their society.

According to this model, an essential part of that social interaction was frequent, promiscuous sex, which served to strengthen social bonds within the group. It also meant that questions of paternity and even – if I understand it correctly – parenthood in general, ultimately did not matter, because the whole group took responsibility for each child.

In these nomadic groups, sex was not in short supply and there was nothing like exclusive rights to a sexual partner. Sex probably took place often as group-sex, in which the females had sex with multiple male partners.

Nowadays, we call this Gangbang, and it is a popular genre of pornography. You will find out about the possible reasons why men – and women – like to watch such films in the next paragraph, and much more in Sex at Dawn.

“Sperm Competition”

When you apply the ideas of Ryan and Jethá about the original human form of sexuality, most likely practiced for millions of years, many puzzling facts suddenly make sense. First among them is the completely different timing of the sexual arousal of men and women. It is also interesting to note that men get excited by seeing other men having sex with women.

We might imagine a typical sexual act in these groups somehow like this: if a female in the group got sexually aroused, she easily would find a partner. The male would most likely be done quickly, i.e. ejaculate, before the female had a chance for orgasm. But, excited by the sight, more males would be drawn to the scene, ready to take his place, while the already satisfied first male, as well as all those following him, after orgasm would lose interest in sex and would not be bothered that the female would continue to have sex with other males.

These different sexual arousal patterns ensured the possibility for the female to have sex long enough for her to experience an orgasm. But more important – sorry ladies, your orgasms are of course important, but still – it made sure that within these relatively small groups a thorough mixing of the genetic material still took place. This was also helped by the fact that at encounters with other groups, which seemed to have occurred rather rarely, the females also easily paired with males from these groups (or does the word “pairing” actually not fit here? …)

The genetic mixing thus was not achieved through competition between the males for the females, but by “sperm competition” inside the vagina of the female.

Modern society still influenced by behaviors formed millions of years ago

If by just reading this article, or even better, the whole book Sex at Dawn, you begin to consider the ideas of Ryan and Jethá, then suddenly many of the phenomena and problems occurring in our society, not least in the area of sexuality, become clearer.

The different patterns of sexual arousal for men and women, which nowadays cause so many relationship crises and help to sell millions of sex advice books, could be seen not as a problem but an evolutionary function. This was the means to ensure a thorough mixing of genes and to avoid inbreeding in small groups, which according to Ryan and Jetha, was the normal way to live for millions of years for the human species. Additionally the promiscuous sex served to ensure social cohesion in the group.

The latter is a phenomenon that, according to Ryan and Jethá, can still be found today among some tribes. Even in modern, Western societies such behavior has developed in certain groups. During World War II, U.S. bomber pilots shared their wives with each other. This was intended to establish a special social bond and encouraged the commitment of the surviving pilots to take responsibility for the women and children of the fallen. It also was the beginning of the modern swinger movement.
Why did we become monogamous? Has it worked?

According to Ryan and Jetha humans deviated from this promiscuous lifestyle in connection with the emergence of an agrarian society.

While the circumstances in which nomadic prehistoric humans were living caused them to live promiscuously, it seems that these circumstances changed. A change in climate may have caused some humans to adopt an agrarian lifestyle. This in turn may have led to the establishment and enforcement of monogamy by rules and harsh punishments in order to support a society that was based on staying in one place and owning, using and passing on property to offspring, at least in some areas of the world. Just as a suggestion: read the first parts of the bible from this perspective.

Consequently, Ryan and Jethá do not say that people “naturally” are monogamous or polygamous. In my understanding, their interpretation is that humans developed a promiscuous lifestyle in response to the circumstances under which they lived for millions of years.

This promiscuous heritage can be found in our DNA. The monogamous way of life that arose in some agrarian societies, relatively recently, about 8,000 years ago, is in constant conflict with this genetic and cultural heritage.
The sometimes strange criticism of Sex at Dawn

To my knowledge, there are few articles about Sex at Dawn that are completely rejecting its ideas. The only one such scientific article, “The Human that Never Evolved” is by R. M. Ellsworth.

Then there is a whole book explicitly written as a rejection, called “Sex at Dusk”. During dusk one can often not see clearly, and with this book some things seem a bit unclear, too. It is self-published and was written by an otherwise unknown author named Lynn Saxon. It seems strange to me then, that only a week after the release, two university professors, Marnia Robinson and David P. Barash, (one of the world’s leading experts on monogamy and polygamy among animals) had already published reviews of it, praising it for its scientific accuracy.

In the online discussion forum of her review Marnia Robinson made the most unusual requirement that only posts would be published from people who had first read the book and other required literature. To my question as to how she would check that and if by this requirement she was not trying to limit the constitutional right to freedom of speech,she gave the rather evasive answer that she just wanted to ensure that this would be an adult discussion. You can find this very strange discussion here.

Neither Robinson nor Barash give details about Lynn Saxon and her scientific background. The same is true for R. M. Ellsworth, who also reviewed “Sex at Dusk,” but only identified Saxon as an “independent scholar.”

All this is not only strange, but ultimately unfair, as almost all critics of Sex at Dawn have questioned the scientific merits of Christopher Ryan. But as soon as they find someone who has written a book in line with their opinions, these same critics no longer ask for scientific qualifications?

Bonobos and primitive humans? What Sex at Dawn is really about

Even without any study of the history of humans and other primates, a look at today’s societies all over the world tells you: monogamy does not work. Even R. M. Ellsworth in his critical article about Sex at Dawn concedes monogamy to be problematic in modern societies.

To which I would add that monogamy was always problematic. Otherwise it would not be represented in so many historical records and so many works of world literature as a problem. There would also be no need for severe penalties for adultery and people would not constantly commit adultery in huge numbers if monogamy really was so natural to us.

These are serious problems of our officially monogamous societies. They lead to much suffering and mental disorders for individuals, not to mention the social and economic damage caused by the many divorces.

These problems and the search for their causes seem to me to be the real issues which Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá are addressing in Sex at Dawn, although they write much about bonobos, orangutans and early humans. That at least is my understanding of Sex at Dawn, unlike its critics, who seem to completely miss this point.

Worth reading: Sex at Dawn

If we want to understand these problems and their causes and come up with new solutions, we need as much scientifically based information as possible about our human nature. That of course requires sound research and knowledge.

As a historian and philosopher, I dare to say that in the history of mankind progress in thinking very often did not come from people trotting along common, socially accepted tracks. Often it came from outsiders and unusual thinkers like Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá.

Finding the causes of the problems described above will need intense scientific and social debate, to which the book Sex at Dawn provides a valuable contribution.

If you would like to join and be inspired by this debate about human nature, presented in an entertaining way, and to have your ideas about the sexual and social nature of humans thoroughly shaken – or stirred, if you like that better – I recommend Sex at Dawn by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá.

A few more thoughts on Human Nature

The public debate about the forms of human coexistence can not only be conducted based on scientific proof about what “really” is our nature. This question can never be answered definitively. We need to always remember that our knowledge and our thinking about the facts are changing constantly.

Ultimately we are dealing with a question of values and the rules by which we want to live. All Western societies and many other societies as well are based on the rights of the individual. Banning adult human beings from voluntarily and knowingly entering into multiple relationships is, I believe, a violation of these very principles.


This essay is translated from german with lots of help from my US-born poly-partner of nine years and her husband. All errors in fact or writing are my responsibility. I refer to the hardcover edition of: Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality, by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá, New York, Harper, ©2010 1st ed.

Article by David P Barash: Sex at Dusk, as of July 21, 2012, 7:52 am

I was not able to find anything about Lynn Saxon and her academic background, and also her few reviewers don't give any such information. If you have information, please leave a comment.

Numbers and Information from Wikipedia, referring to CIA World Factbook

David Barash freely admits to this, which goes to his credit: “… simple envy, since their book seems to have sold a lot of copies.

Ryan M. Ellsworth, Department of Anthropology, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, USA. The human that never evolved[...] – 2011. 9 (3) : 325-335

The Myth of Promiscuity. A review of Lynn Saxon, Sex at Dusk: Lifting the Shiny Wrapping from Sex at Dawn. [...] – 2012. 10(3): 611-616
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am 10. März 2014
This book is perfect for every person, but especially for people who can't understand why they've always felt like misfits in this monogamy-bias culture.
Open your minds.
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