How We Do It - Robert Martin
Martin, an anthropologist and curator at Chicago's Field Museum, covers every aspect of human reproduction from fertilization to infant care in this thoughtful, well-written book. He takes an evolutionary approach throughout, exploring similarities and differences between humans, our primate relatives, and mammals in general, in an attempt to understand the origins of many of our behaviors and physiological patterns, and how these have changed, and continue to change as time goes on. Martin discusses the production of gametes (sperm counts have experienced a significant and shocking decline over the past 50 years), the patterns and purpose of menstruation, the value and cost of breast-feeding, and various mechanisms of contraception, among other interesting topics. His comparative analysis and expertise permits him to draw compelling conclusions, as he does in his examination of the reproductive tracts of mammals: "All evidence combined indicates that the reproductive systems of both men and women are adapted for a one-male mating context with little sperm competition." But he also raises thought-provoking questions, such as why so many sperm on the order of 250 billion are released when only one can inseminate the egg. The only disappointment is that, despite the book's subtitle, Martin spends less than a single page looking at the "future of human reproduction." Glossary.