An enjoyable, exhaustive and often insightful look at what turns us on—sure to excite readers.

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A BILLION WICKED THOUGHTS

WHAT THE WORLD'S LARGEST EXPERIMENT REVEALS ABOUT HUMAN DESIRE

An in-depth look at the variety of forms in which human sexual desire manifests, based on an analysis of 500 million people and their anonymous—thus, likely truthful—online revelations.

Every day, millions of people voluntarily reveal intimate details about their sexual preferences online through search queries, adult websites, classified ads, stories and videos. During the course of their research into the nature of human sexual desire, neuroscientists Ogas and Gaddam analyzed half a billion of these and, combined with the latest findings in conceptual neuroscience, discovered that the data yielded some unexpected information about sexual preference. Some quirkier examples include the Japanese fascination with a woman's “absolute territory” (the space of exposed skin between the bottom of a skirt and the top of knee-high stockings); the fact that fantasies of older women are very popular among straight men; and that paranormal erotic literature is increasingly popular among women. Also intriguing is the authors' analysis of the relatively small divergence of sexual preference between straight and gay men (excepting the obvious masculine/feminine aspects) and the surprising discovery about which faction is most curious about transsexuals. More expected results also abound: Men are aroused visually, whereas women prefer to have their imaginations stimulated; men desire sex, and woman desire the feeling of being desired; men have a direct mind-body connection when it comes to arousal, and women experience a more complex series of thoughts and emotions, often displaying an intellectual distaste for stimuli that might simultaneously excite them physically. Perhaps partly as a result of this, there exists no pharmaceutical equivalent of Viagra for women. From cartoon porn to foot fetishes, the authors write with enthusiasm and in engaging detail, often incorporating the neuroscientific basis for results, yet retaining an accessible vernacular throughout that references pop culture as often as the laboratory.

An enjoyable, exhaustive and often insightful look at what turns us on—sure to excite readers.

Pub Date: May 5, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-525-95209-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2011

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

THE LAWS OF HUMAN NATURE

A follow-on to the author’s garbled but popular 48 Laws of Power, promising that readers will learn how to win friends and influence people, to say nothing of outfoxing all those “toxic types” out in the world.

Greene (Mastery, 2012, etc.) begins with a big sell, averring that his book “is designed to immerse you in all aspects of human behavior and illuminate its root causes.” To gauge by this fat compendium, human behavior is mostly rotten, a presumption that fits with the author’s neo-Machiavellian program of self-validation and eventual strategic supremacy. The author works to formula: First, state a “law,” such as “confront your dark side” or “know your limits,” the latter of which seems pale compared to the Delphic oracle’s “nothing in excess.” Next, elaborate on that law with what might seem to be as plain as day: “Losing contact with reality, we make irrational decisions. That is why our success often does not last.” One imagines there might be other reasons for the evanescence of glory, but there you go. Finally, spin out a long tutelary yarn, seemingly the longer the better, to shore up the truism—in this case, the cometary rise and fall of one-time Disney CEO Michael Eisner, with the warning, “his fate could easily be yours, albeit most likely on a smaller scale,” which ranks right up there with the fortuneteller’s “I sense that someone you know has died" in orders of probability. It’s enough to inspire a new law: Beware of those who spend too much time telling you what you already know, even when it’s dressed up in fresh-sounding terms. “Continually mix the visceral with the analytic” is the language of a consultant’s report, more important-sounding than “go with your gut but use your head, too.”

The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-42814-5

Page Count: 580

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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