The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature

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Harper Collins, Apr 29, 2003 - Science - 416 pages
220 Reviews

Referring to Lewis Carroll's Red Queen from Through the Looking-Glass, a character who has to keep running to stay in the same place, Matt Ridley demonstrates why sex is humanity's best strategy for outwitting its constantly mutating internal predators. The Red Queen answers dozens of other riddles of human nature and culture -- including why men propose marriage, the method behind our maddening notions of beauty, and the disquieting fact that a woman is more likely to conceive a child by an adulterous lover than by her husband. Brilliantly written, The Red Queen offers an extraordinary new way of interpreting the human condition and how it has evolved.


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A very well researched and thorough book. - Goodreads
Amazing insights into human nature. - Goodreads
Matt Ridley is a great writer. - Goodreads
Wonderful overview of the role of sex in evolution. - Goodreads
Matt Ridley is a brilliant science writer. - Goodreads
Some of the best science writing out there - Goodreads

Review: The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature

User Review  - Morgan Blackledge - Goodreads

Would you like to more thoroughly understand why people are the way they are and why they do the crazy shit they do? If so, this book would be a great place to start. It's one of those ridiculously ... Read full review

Review: The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature

User Review  - Shawn Stone - Goodreads

Our two biological drives are to survive and reproduce. Sex determines everything and subsequently, man's evolutionary narrative has unfolded in response to these two imperatives. Well researched ... Read full review



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Popular passages

Page 53 - The chessboard is the world, the pieces are the phenomena of the universe, the rules of the game are what we call the laws of Nature.
Page 64 - Alice, still panting a little, "you'd generally get to somewhere else if you ran very fast for a long time, as we've been doing." "A slow sort of a country!" said the Queen. "Now here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!
Page 277 - Sigh, no more, ladies, sigh no more, Men were deceivers ever ; One foot in sea, and one on shore ; To one thing constant never : Then sigh not so, But let them go, And be you blithe and bonny ; Converting all your sounds of woe Into Hey nonny, nonny.
Page 60 - It is interesting to contemplate an entangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent on each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us.
Page 1 - The most curious part of the thing was, that the trees and the other things round them never changed their places at all : however fast they went, they never seemed to pass anything. " I wonder if nil the things move along with us ?
Page 345 - KNOW then thyself, presume not God to scan, The proper study of mankind is Man. Placed on this isthmus of a middle state, A being darkly wise, and rudely great; With too much knowledge for the sceptic side, With too much weakness for the stoic's pride...
Page 8 - On another page he writes :"I believe that heredity depends upon the fact that a small portion of the effective substance of the germ, the germ-plasm, remains unchanged during the development of the ovum into an organism, and that this part of the germ-plasm serves as a foundation from which the germ-cells of the new organism are produced. There is, therefore, continuity of the germ-plasm from one generation to another. One might represent the...
Page 89 - twixt plated decks Which practically conceal its sex. I think it clever of the turtle In such a fix to be so fertile.
Page 328 - It makes a difference whether a far-off region is reached by taking the trail that is in front of the large tree or the trail that the large tree is in front of. It makes a difference whether that region has animals that you can eat or animals that can eat you.
Page 209 - SHEPHERD: Echo, I ween, will in the wood reply, And quaintly answer questions: shall I try? ECHO: Try. What must we do our passion to express? Press. How shall I please her, who ne'er loved before? Be Fore. What most moves women when we them address? A dress. Say, what can keep her chaste whom I adore? A door. If music softens rocks, love tunes my lyre. Liar. Then teach me, Echo, how shall I come by her? Buy her.

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About the author (2003)

Matt Ridley is the author of several award-winning books, including Genome, The Agile Gene, and The Red Queen, which have sold more than 800,000 copies in twenty-seven languages worldwide. He lives in England.

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