Mother Nature

By Sarah Blaffer Hrdy,

Book cover of Mother Nature: A History of Mothers, Infants, and Natural Selection

Book description

A History of Mothers, Infants and Natural Selection

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Why read it?

2 authors picked Mother Nature as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Given my interests in nature and nurture, what I find especially fascinating is “the nature of nurture”. By this I mean how Darwinian natural selection has shaped the way our species rears its children and the effects such care has on them.

This book by a world-famous anthropologist beautifully, informative, and insightfully reveals how evolution has made us who we are as parents, people capable of unconditional love but by no means always dispensing it, sometimes the exact opposite—and why that is the case.

In this exceptionally well-written and engaging book, the author, an evolutionary anthropologist and feminist, shows that women need to mother but that successful mothering is highly contingent on context. Mothers are primed to bond with their infants, but this process can be short-circuited when the conditions for successfully rearing an infant are poor. Infanticide is a common practice throughout the world but is most likely to occur when there is a lack of sufficient resources, when the infant is defective, when a mother lacks social support, or when there are doubts about paternity.

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