Sapolsky has produced a quirky, opinionated and magisterial synthesis of psychology and neurobiology that integrates this complex subject more accessibly and completely than ever ... Behavioral biology is indeed complex, but Sapolsky simplifies the topic with a beautifully organized and well-stocked store of knowledge. He has such a light tone, so imperious a command of data and such a rich fund of anecdotes that we are swept swiftly along to the last third of the book ... Sapolsky proposes 10 strategies for reducing violence, all reasonable but none that justify the notion that science is the basis for societal advances toward less violence and higher morality...In this section Sapolsky becomes a partisan critic, including presenting a skeptical view about the supposed long-term decline of human violence ... If it took an unrealistic connection between science and society to motivate Sapolsky to write Behave, that is a small price. His book offers a wild and mind-opening ride into a better understanding of just where our behavior comes from. Darwin would have been thrilled.
Mr. Sapolsky’s concept is to examine behavior starting at its most immediate neural underpinnings, then trace it to progressively more distant causes, including hormonal, social and developmental ones, and ultimately to search out its evolutionary antecedents. To my knowledge, this hasn’t been done before in one book, and he succeeds magnificently ... The author’s comprehensive approach integrates controlled laboratory investigation with naturalistic observations and study. To his immense credit, he doesn’t omit cultural norms, social learning, the role of peer pressure or historical tradition. He also has a delightfully self-deprecating sense of humor ... It’s no exaggeration to say that Behave is one of the best nonfiction books I’ve ever read.
If you ever thought that neuroscience was deathly boring or too complicated for pleasurable reading, Behave will change your mind ...at about 100 pages in, you’ll begin to question whether that decision you made so many years ago not to go into the sciences might have been too hasty ... Sapolsky is so immensely comfortable explaining complicated things in accessible ways... What drives humans to harm each other or help each other? He finds the answers in our biology and takes readers on a journey through the nervous system, hormones, evolution and environment to make his argument ... Sapolsky leaves little surprises for his readers in the footnotes, which read like in-jokes from the lab ...Sapolsky has created an immensely readable, often hilarious romp through the multiple worlds of psychology, primatology, sociology and neurobiology to explain why we behave the way we do.