Behave: The bestselling exploration of why humans behave as they do (Paperback)
  • Behave: The bestselling exploration of why humans behave as they do (Paperback)

Behave: The bestselling exploration of why humans behave as they do (Paperback)

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Paperback 800 Pages
Published: 05/04/2018
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Longlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize 2018

Why do we do what we do?

Behave is at once a dazzling tour and a majestic synthesis of the whole science of human behaviour. Brought to life through simple language, engaging stories and irreverent wit, it offers the fullest picture yet of the origins of tribalism and xenophobia, hierarchy and competition, morality and free will, war and peace.

Robert Sapolsky's ingenious method is to move backwards in time from the moment at which a behaviour occurs, layer by layer through the myriad influences that led to it.

We begin with the split-second reactions of the brain and nervous system; then we consider our response to sight, sound and smell in the minutes and seconds beforehand; next he explains the interactions of hormones, which prime our behaviour in the preceding hours and days.

He proceeds through the experiences of adolescence, childhood and foetal development that shape us over our lifespans and continues over centuries and millennia through the profound influences of genetic inheritance, cultural context and ultimately the evolutionary origins of our species.

Throughout, Sapolsky considers the most important question: what causes acts of aggression or compassion? What inspires us to terrible deeds and what might help foster our best behaviour? Wise, humane, often very funny, Behave is a towering achievement, powerfully humanizing, that is unlikely to be surpassed for many years.

Publisher: Vintage Publishing
ISBN: 9780099575061
Number of pages: 800
Weight: 580 g
Dimensions: 196 x 128 x 46 mm


Awe-inspiring … This is the best scientific book written for non-specialists that I have ever read. You will learn more about human nature than in any other book I can think of, and you will be inspired - Henry Marsh, author of Do No Harm

It’s no exaggeration to say that Behave is one of the best nonfiction books I’ve ever read - Wall Street Journal

Behave is the best detective story ever written, and the most important. If you've ever wondered why someone did something – good or bad, vicious or generous – you need to read this book. If you think you already know why people behave as they do, you need to read this book. In other words, everybody needs to read it. It should be available on prescription (side effects: chronic laughter; highly addictive). They should put Behave in hotel rooms instead of the Bible: the world would be a much better, wiser place - Kate Fox, author of Watching the English

Magisterial … This extraordinary survey of the science of human behaviour takes the reader on an epic journey … Sapolsky makes the book consistently entertaining, with an infectious excitement at the puzzles he explains … a miraculous synthesis of scholarly domains - Steven Poole, Guardian

Truly all-encompassing … detailed, accessible, fascinating - Telegraph

Rarely does an almost 800-page book keep my attention from start to finish, but Behave is exceptional in its scale, scope, detail and writing style ... Sapolsky places what makes us special in the wider context of humans as animals with brains that are fundamentally similar to those of other species. It is the first book that does so comprehensively enough to qualify as a guide to human behaviour - Frans de Waal, Science

A miraculous book, by far the best treatment of violence, aggression, and competition ever. Its depth and breadth of scholarship are amazing, building on Sapolsky’s own research and his vast knowledge of the neurobiology, genetic, and behavioral literature. All this is done brilliantly with a light and funny touch that shows why Sapolsky is recognized as one of the greatest teachers in science today - Paul Ehrlich, author of Human Natures

A great writer and a superb guide to human nature, Sapolsky shows you how all the perspectives and systems connect, and he makes you laugh and marvel along the way. A beautifully crafted work about the biology of morality - Jonathan Haidt, author of The Righteous Mind

One of the best scientist-writers of our time - Oliver Sacks

Behave is like a great historical novel, with excellent prose and encylopedic detail. It traces the most important story that can ever be told - E O Wilson

As wide as it is deep, this book is colorful, electrifying, and moving. Sapolsky leverages his deep expertise to ask the most fundamental questions about being human - David Eagleman, author of Incognito

Marvellous. Behave gives us the knowledge of how to manifest more of our best selves and less of our worst, individually and as a society - Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit

One of the finest natural history writers around - The New York Times

Robert Sapolsky's students must love him ... witty, erudite and passionate about clear communication ... the implications of fascinating scientific findings are illuminated through topical stories ... then Sapolsky reaches for the big, synthetic pay-offs, examining how, together, these insights can enhance our understanding of the forces that lead to tribalism, violence, dehumanization and war - as well as tolerance, empathy and peace ... The analysis is arresting and the writing is often moving ... It is impossible not to deeply admire a project bold enough to ask an entire field to work to create a more just and peaceful world - Nature

Sapolsky’s book shows in exquisite detail how culture, context and learning shape everything our genes, brains, hormones and neurons do - Times Literary Supplement

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“One of the best books I have ever read”

Behave is quite literally one of the best books I have ever read - and I promise that is not hyperbole. At 800 pages it might not be one that you read quickly, but you'll want to savour every moment with it. I... More

Paperback edition
3 similar books recommended
Helpful? Upvote 50

“A multidisciplinary understanding of behaviour”

This is a refreshing antidote to the current populist trend of giving simple answers to complex questions.Yes, Human behaviour is complicated but can be better understood when considered in the overlapping concepts of... More

Paperback edition
Helpful? Upvote 30

“I love this book!”

I picked this up on the strength of Henry Marsh and Oliver Sacks giving it praise on the front cover and I was not disappointed. Fascinating, deeply insightful, perfectly pitched, hilarious at times, the list goes on.... More

Paperback edition
Helpful? Upvote 28

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