Cover: Killer Instinct: The Popular Science of Human Nature in Twentieth-Century America, from Harvard University PressCover: Killer Instinct in HARDCOVER

Killer Instinct

The Popular Science of Human Nature in Twentieth-Century America

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Product Details


$45.00 • £36.95 • €40.50

ISBN 9780674983472

Publication Date: 10/26/2021


368 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

20 photos


Informative, accessible, and filled with fascinating portraits of her large cast of characters, Weidman’s book makes an important contribution to our understanding of how ideas about nature and nurture were constructed, contested, and disseminated in the United States between the 1950s and 1980s.—Glenn C. Altschuler, Psychology Today

Nadine Weidman has written a brilliant and elegant book. If you’ve ever wondered about the real reasons human beings act one way or another—and why this search for our root instincts has maintained persistent prominence throughout time—you now have the ideal guide.—Rebecca Lemov, author of Database of Dreams: The Lost Quest to Catalog Humanity

With exceptional scholarship and a compelling narrative, Nadine Weidman reveals how the science of an essentialized ‘human nature’ was constructed, popularized, and fought over in the 1950s through the 1980s. Focusing on the work of Konrad Lorenz, Ashley Montagu, Robert Ardrey, E. O. Wilson, and Ruth Hubbard, Weidman provides an important new understanding of the history of instinct, aggression, and ‘popular science.’—Andrew S. Winston, Professor Emeritus, University of Guelph

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