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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 Author Biography

Photo: Aksel Çoruh

Mara Hvistendahl covered China's renaissance in science and technology as a correspondent in Shanghai for Science. She has also written for the Atlantic, Popular Science, WIRED, and other publications. She is the author of Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. A proficient Mandarin speaker and former National Fellow at New America, she lived in China for eight years and now resides in Minneapolis with her family.

Link to Mara Hvistendahl's Website

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