Books  Evolutionary Biology  Human Evolution & Anthropology 

Testosterone: Sex, Power, and the Will to Win

Popular Science
Describes the extraordinary insights from modern research into the workings of an ancient molecule that enabled us to survive and reproduce and shaped our history
Shows how testosterone forms males, changing the body, and what we know of its role in the male brain
Discusses the role of testosterone in sexuality, aggression, competition, and risk-taking, in war, and on the trading room floor
Considers efforts to manage the potency of testosterone in violent offenders and rapists
Looks at the exciting and growing research into the role played by testosterone in women

By: Joe Herbert (Author)

217 pages, 22 b/w illustrations

Oxford University Press

Hardback | Apr 2015 | #216889 | ISBN-13: 9780198724971
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £16.99 $21/€19 approx

About this book

We inherit mechanisms for survival from our primeval past; none so obviously as those involved in reproduction. The hormone testosterone underlies the organization of activation of masculinity: it changes the body and brain to make a male. It is involved not only in sexuality but in driving aggression, competitiveness, risk-taking – all elements that were needed for successful survival and reproduction in the past. But these ancient systems are carried forward into a modern world. The ancient world shaped the human brain, but the modern world is shaped by that brain. How does this world, with all its cultural, political, and social variations, deal with and control the primeval role of testosterone, which continues to be essential for the survival of the species? Sex, aggression, winning, losing, gangs, war: the powerful effects of testosterone are entwined with them all. These are the ingredients of human history, so testosterone has played a central role in our story.

In Testosterone: Sex, Power, and the Will to Win, Joe Herbert explains the nature of this potent hormone, how it operates in mammals in general and in humans in particular, what we know about its role in influencing various aspects of behaviour in men, and what we are beginning to understand of its role in women. From rape to gang warfare among youths, understanding the workings of testosterone is critical to enable us to manage its continuing powerful effects in modern society.

"Herbert's book is refreshingly sensitive to the gamut of testosterone's effects"
Newsweek Europe, Peter Leggatt

"It is the best of hormones, it is the worst of hormones. Joe Herbert leads a guided tour through human evolution using the multifaceted hormone as his lens and vehicle."
New Scientist, Bob Grant

"Testosterone is a very good read on an interesting subject"
BBC Focus, Dr Dean Burnett

"Herbert's study makes clear that testosterone a small but powerful molecule has helped shape our history [...] Testosterone [...] provokes its readers into considering the role of our biological inheritance in influencing how we cope with modern society [...] Herbert challenges us to pay closer attention to the role of our biological inheritance in shaping virtually all aspects of our existence"
– Dr Ian Miller, Times Literary Supplement

"an engaging whistlestop tour of the science surrounding [testosterone]"
Daily Mail, Nick Rennison



1: Testosterone and the evolution of mankind
2: What is testosterone?
3: Testosterone makyth man
4: Testosterone and sex
5: Testosterone and aggression
6: Controlling testosterone
7: Testosterone, winning, losing and making money
8: Testosterone and war
9: Testosterone in women
10: Testosterone and the brain


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Joe Herbert is Emeritus Professor of Neuroscience, Cambridge University and a Fellow of Gonville and Caius College. His areas of expertise include the role of hormones in the ability of the adult brain to make new nerve cells (neurons) and repair the brain; how hormones regulate behavior; the neuroscience of stress; how hormones, genes and the social and psychological environment interact to promote the risk for depression; and studies on the way that hormones and genes influence financial decision-making. He has authored (and co-authored) around 250 scientific papers on these topics, and is the author of The Minder Brain: How your brain keeps you alive, protects you from danger, and ensures that you reproduce (World Scientific Press, 2007).

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