Unnatural Selection: Book summary and reviews of Unnatural Selection by Mara Hvistendahl

Unnatural Selection

Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men

by Mara Hvistendahl

Unnatural Selection by Mara Hvistendahl X
Unnatural Selection by Mara Hvistendahl
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Book Summary

Lianyungang, a booming port city, has China's most extreme gender ratio for children under four: 163 boys for every 100 girls. These numbers don't seem terribly grim, but in ten years, the skewed sex ratio will pose a colossal challenge. By the time those children reach adulthood, their generation will have twenty-four million more men than women.

The prognosis for China's neighbors is no less bleak: Asia now has 163 million females "missing" from its population. Gender imbalance reaches far beyond Asia, affecting Georgia, Eastern Europe, and cities in the U.S. where there are significant immigrant populations. The world, therefore, is becoming increasingly male, and this mismatch is likely to create profound social upheaval.

Historically, eras in which there have been an excess of men have produced periods of violent conflict and instability. Mara Hvistendahl has written a stunning, impeccably-researched book that does not flinch from examining not only the consequences of the misbegotten policies of sex selection but Western complicity with them.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. A hard-hitting, eye-opening study that not only paints a dire future of a world without girls but traces the West’s role in propagating sex selection…. Hvistendahl’s important, even-handed exposé considers all sides of the argument and deserves careful attention and study." - Kirkus

"Yes, it’s a rigorous exploration of the world's 'missing women,' but it’s more than that too: an extraordinarily vivid look at the implications of the problem. Hvistendahl writes beautifully, with an eye for detail but also the big picture. She has a fierce intelligence but, more important, a fierce intellectual independence; she writes with a hard edge but no venom - rather, a cool and hard passion." - Stephen J. Dubner, author of Freakonomics and SuperFreakonomics

"A fascinating and thoroughly researched book on a most important subject. The staggering population imbalances described by Hvistendahl should be of concern to all." - Jonah Lehrer, author of How We Decide

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Author Information

Mara Hvistendahl

Mara Hvistendahl's writing has appeared in Harper's, The New Republic, Scientific American, the Financial Times magazine, Popular Science, Foreign Policy, and the Los Angeles Times. A correspondent for the Chronicle of Higher Education and former contributing editor at Seed magazine, Mara has won an Education Writers Association award and been nominated for the Newswomen's Club of New York Front Page Award. She first lived in Asia over a decade ago, when her studies took her to Beijing. She has spent half of the years since then in China, a base from which she reported extensively from around the continent.

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