National Book Award Finalist: This look at the science of the female body is “a tour de force . . . wonderful, entertaining and informative” (TheNew York Times Book Review).
From a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who covers science for the New York Times, Woman is an essential guide to everything from organs to orgasms and hormones to hysterectomies. With her characteristic clarity and insight, Natalie Angier cuts through still-prevalent myths and misinformation surrounding the female body, the most enigmatic of evolutionary masterpieces. In addition to earning a nomination for the National Book Award, Woman was named one of the best books of the year by NPR, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, and People, among others.
“One knows early on one is reading a classic—a text so necessary and abundant and true that all efforts of its kind, for decades before and after it, will be measured by it.” —Los Angeles Times
“Ultimately, this grand tour of the female body provides a new vision of the role of women in the history of our species.” —The Washington Post
Did postmenopausal women invent the human race? Are males more similar to females than females are to males? These are among the many stimulating questions at the core of Angier's provocative "scientific fantasia of womanhood," a spirited and thoroughly informed--if admittedly biased--study of how the body is "a map of meaning and freedom." Angier (The Beauty of the Beastly; Natural Obsessions) presents new theories on the evolution of women's anatomy, physiology and social behaviors. She points out, for example, that the X chromosome has a "vastly higher gene richness" than the Y, which by contrast is "a depauperized little stump," and she champions the argument of anthropologist Kristen Hawkes that the role of postmenopausal grandmothers, who could help younger females nurture their weaned but still dependent offspring, "invented youth.... And in inventing childhood, they invented the human race. They created Homo imperialis, a species that can go anywhere and exploit everything." With wit and verve, Angier discusses such topics as ovulation, conception and birth; the social and physiological functions of breasts; orgasm, mate selection and child-rearing behavior; the complex workings of estrogen; hysterectomy; muscle strength; and female aggression and bonding. Her wide-ranging celebration of the female body engages the intellect but, more importantly, also offers a rigorous challenge to male-oriented theories of biology. BOMC selection; author tour.