With fascinating insight, impeccable research, and captivating writing, controversial psychoanalyst Jeffrey Masson, a new father himself, showcases the extraordinary behaviour of outstanding fathers in the animal kingdom. From the emperor penguin, who incubates the eggs of his young by carrying them around on his feet for two months, to the sea-horse, the only male animal that gives birth to its young. Mason also examines nature's worst fathers; lions, bears, and humans. It is a book that will forever change our perceptions of parenthood and love.
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(198mm x 129mm x 14mm)
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Country of Publication:
UK Kirkus Review »
Can animals love their kids in much the same way as humans? Unbelievable as it sounds, Masson just might have you convinced with his impressive array of fatherhood stories. Whether you agree with him or not this is an original and informative read for anyone with a professional or personal interest in fatherhood. The writer's admiration for heroic dads like the Emperor penguin who broods a single egg through the freezing Arctic winter without food, or the South American tree frog, nurturing young from egg to froglet within his vocal sac, underpins the biological descriptions. Myriad styles of fatherhood throughout the animal kingdom from absentee elephants to the total commitment of most birds are brought together for the first time for a general audience. Surprising entries perhaps in the premier league of superdads are monogamous wolves, mouthbrooding fish and the marmoset who can act as midwife at difficult births. Masson's own intense experience of parenting clearly informs the core question in the book: are good animal fathers driven solely by instinct or by some form of emotional attachment to their young? Never afraid to be controversial, the psychoanalyst carries his argument even to the male seahorse who gestates young in a pouch releasing hundreds of sea foals in a spectacular 'birth'. Evidence from bad dads like lions, bears and langur monkeys is reviewed posing challenging theories for infanticide, suggesting it may even be a side effect of being observed by outsiders. Individual variation in paternal investment within the same species (as seen among humans) is the key argument for an element of choice in behaviour arising from the existence of a bond between father and offspring; a bond Masson is not ashamed to call love. (Kirkus UK)
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