In his stunning new book, Marriage and Civilization, author William Tucker looks at the evidence from biology, evolution, anthropology, history, and culture to come to a remarkable conclusion: it was the monogamous pairing of male and female - unusual among mammals - that led to human evolution. Moreover, it is monogamous marriage that has shaped Western Civilization, giving us our sense of justice, undergirded Western democracy, and is the greatest institution we have for perpetuating human freedom and happiness.
Yet marriage is now under threat - and perhaps not in ways that people suspect. We could actually see the de facto abolition of marriage, with the state taking many of the responsibilities formerly assumed by the nuclear family.
Among Tucker's many eye-opening observations:
How primitive polygamy was a retrogression from the original monogamous structure of the human family
Why monogamy was essential to the development of ancient Greek democracy
Why it was the Catholic Church, not the Bible or Christianity in general, that was the great defender of monogamous marriage in Western Civilization
Why polygamous societies - from primitive farming communities, to the Mongols, to the Muslim world, to the early Mormons - are internally violent and have bloody borders
Why same-sex marriage - utterly irrelevant, in evolutionary terms - is a distraction from the real marriage debate we should be having
The prospects for monogamous marriage - and the dangers if it collapses
Marriage and Civilization might be the most important, provocative, and talked-about book of the year.
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Entertaining history lesson
- Jose Luis Muniz