The complex topic of attachment theory is opened up to parents, as well as other interested adults, by putting issues of child development, usually couched in antiseptic academic parlance, in lay terms. Ranging through historical developments in the field, Karen, formerly a psychotherapist in the pediatric unit of Bellevue Hospital, attempts to demystify ""mother love,"" or the bond babies have with their primary caregiver (Karen is also concerned with what happens to babies when that bond is disrupted). The author introduces and defends the English researcher John Bowlby, whose intuitions in the late 1930's about ""maternal attachment"" would be borne out not by his research but by that of Mary Ainsworth decades later. It may be historians and would-be child psychologists to whom this book matters most, for the delineation of who contributed what to the field, and when, puts both attachment theory and psychoanalytic theory into a context of early speculations, later advances, due championing, and (some) tarnishment. Amid occasionally florid prose, and with a tendency to characterize figures as either brilliant or great, Karen delves into what theorists have believed to be children's earliest feelings of rage and helplessness, love and security. Wittily titled chapters with effective cliffhanger endings will carry readers along on the tide of discovery and naysaying, furious debate, and placid acceptance of what these days is considered universally scandalous treatment of children (from abandonment of orphans to the analysis by her father of Anna Freud). Karen's work makes clear that, regardless of the path of scientific thought, there are newly minted, common-sense reasons for giving offspring all the love and respect we can.