SEX: The Natural History of a Behavior

Joann Rodgers, Author . W.H. Freeman $24.95 (544p) ISBN 978-0-7167-3744-5

The reduction of human sexual behavior to adaptations that ensure survival has become rather commonplace in the era of evolutionary psychology. Rodgers, deputy director of public affairs and director of media relations for Johns Hopkins and a lecturer in the university's School of Hygiene and Public Health, builds on this idea as she examines why human bodies and minds are almost constantly preoccupied by sex, often unconsciously. In the tone of a slightly suggestive sex-ed teacher, she examines the rituals accompanying sexual behavior, from the flirtatious touch to the French kiss to the climactic moment of orgasm. Humans, she argues, have developed each behavior to attract and keep the most desirable partner. In spite of the already flooded market for these kinds of books, Rodgers's entertaining anecdotes, her sometimes provocative prose (on the results of a one-night stand: "So he really wasn't the master of the universe he pretended to be? And she wasn't exactly the innocent, 20-something school teacher she presented to him? Big deal") and her notion that sexual behaviors and functions coevolved (that is, when a female desired a particular trait in a male, he eventually developed it) make this a fittingly exciting read. (Jan.)

Forecast:Frank, funny and deft, this book will have to elbow its way past the competition to get attention, but Rodgers may have just the right stuff to do that. Her book tour will benefit from her years of media relations experience. Rodgers also spent 18 years as a science columnist for Hearst Newspapers, so her name may be familiar to reviewers.

Reviewed on: 10/15/2001
Release date: 01/01/2002
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