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Reviews of Eve by Cat Bohannon


How the Female Body Drove 200 Million Years of Human Evolution

by Cat Bohannon

Eve by Cat Bohannon X
Eve by Cat Bohannon
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  • Published:
    Oct 2023, 624 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Jo-Anne Blanco
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About this Book

Book Summary

The real origin of our species: a myth-busting, eye-opening landmark account of how humans evolved, offering a paradigm shift in our thinking about what the female body is, how it came to be, and how this evolution still shapes all our lives today

How did the female body drive 200 million years of human evolution? • Why do women live longer than men? • Why are women more likely to get Alzheimer's? • Why do girls score better at every academic subject than boys until puberty, when suddenly their scores plummet? • Is sexism useful for evolution? • And why, seriously why, do women have to sweat through our sheets every night when we hit menopause?

These questions are producing some truly exciting science – and in Eve, with boundless curiosity and sharp wit, Cat Bohannon covers the past 200 million years to explain the specific science behind the development of the female sex: "We need a kind of user's manual for the female mammal. A no-nonsense, hard-hitting, seriously researched (but readable) account of what we are. How female bodies evolved, how they work, what it really means to biologically be a woman. Something that would rewrite the story of womanhood. This book is that story. We have to put the female body in the picture. If we don't, it's not just feminism that's compromised. Modern medicine, neurobiology, paleoanthropology, even evolutionary biology all take a hit when we ignore the fact that half of us have breasts. So it's time we talk about breasts. Breasts, and blood, and fat, and vaginas, and wombs—all of it. How they came to be and how we live with them now, no matter how weird or hilarious the truth is."

Eve is not only a sweeping revision of human history, it's an urgent and necessary corrective for a world that has focused primarily on the male body for far too long. Picking up where Sapiens left off, Eve will completely change what you think you know about evolution and why Homo sapiens has become such a successful and dominant species.



No sooner had the notion of the Flood subsided,
Than a hare paused amid the clover and trembling bellflowers and
said its prayer to the rainbow through the spider's web...
Blood flowed in Bluebeard's house— in the slaughterhouses— in the circuses, where God's seal made the windows blanch.
Blood and milk flowed together.

— Arthur Rimbaud, "After the Flood"

Got Milk?

— Ad campaign for the California Milk Processor Board, 1993

There in the soft grass, in the wet crush of evening, she was waiting: furred body shirred with drops of rain, no bigger than a human thumb.

We call her Morgie. Little hunter. One of the first Eves.

She waited at the mouth of her burrow because the sky was still pale—streaky threads of photons refracting through clouds, the deepening blue beyond. She waited because her cells told her to, all the little clocks in her clockwork, and her eyes, and her whiskers twitching in the air, and the ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!
  1. In her introduction, Cat Bohannon quotes Susan Sontag, who wrote in her essay for Annie Leibovitz's book Women, "any large-scale picturing of women belongs to the ongoing story of how women are presented, and how they are invited to think of themselves. [As such, it raises] the question of women—there is no equivalent 'question of men.' Men, unlike women, are not a work in progress." Talk about the way that quote makes you feel. Do you think it rings true in your own life? In the lives of the women you know?
  2. Bohannon grounds each chapter with an Eve, an evolutionary great-great-grandmother from whom we have all evolved. How did that organizational method feel to you as the reader? Was it helpful to get to know the various animals ...
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BookBrowse Review


A vast, meticulously researched, and often entertaining work encompassing an enormous amount of information, Eve takes the reader on an epic journey through the history and evolution of humanity, focusing specifically on the development of the female sex. Amongst the comprehensively researched facts and brilliant explanatory examples, the author occasionally adopts a colloquial style that readers will find amusing, but perhaps a little jarring at times. Bohannon's wit and humor prove nonetheless effective, creating an enjoyable and enlightening read as opposed to a dry academic treatise. She demonstrates eloquent storytelling skills when evoking different eras and conditions in which our ancestral Eves lived...continued

Full Review Members Only (813 words)

(Reviewed by Jo-Anne Blanco).

Media Reviews

New York Times
Publishers Weekly The high-velocity, high-impact Eve, part owner's manual for the female body…part sweeping saga of mammalian history; and part clapback against the tendency of much evolutionary thought to place men, and their furry mancestors, at the center of the action...Bohannon has a poet's voice…and a reporter's eye. Eve is an endless source of dinner-party trivia, much of it inappropriate for actual dinner parties...Eve also suggests a new way of thinking about one's body: as a thing of time, built on a foundation developed over millions of years...Powerful...A love letter to the ancient, creaking wonder that is evolution.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
A capacious investigation of women throughout time....Bohannon...creates a jaunty, digressive, and often whimsical tale examining the origins of some defining features of womanhood....Fascinating...Prodigious research informs a spirited history of humanity.

Publishers Weekly
Bohannon offers a bracing corrective to male-centric evolutionary accounts. She balances scientific rigor with entertaining prose....It's an illuminating and fresh take on how human evolution unfolded.

Author Blurb Bonnie Garmus, #1 New York Times best-selling author of Lessons in Chemistry
A smart, funny, scientific deep-dive into the power of a woman's body, Eve surprises, educates, and emboldens. Who runs the world? Girls!

Author Blurb Hope Jahren, best-selling author of Lab Girl and Story of More
Eve was immeasurably useful to me in my life-long quest to understand my own body. I highly recommend it to anyone who is on the same journey.

Author Blurb Neil Shubin, University of Chicago biologist and author of Your Inner Fish
For over a century and a half since Darwin, we have talked about the origin of man. But what about women? Marshaling considerable wit, scholarship, and cutting edge science Cat Bohannon traces the history and importance of female biology and, in the process, gives us a refreshing new view on the origin of humanity.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

A World Not Built for Women: Gender Bias in Medicine & Science

In March 2019, NASA was due to launch the first all-women spacewalk from the International Space Station. It was to be a milestone in space exploration. Astronauts Christina Koch and Anne McClain were to walk outside the ISS to replace lithium-ion batteries; Mary Lawrence and Kristen Facciol were to be lead flight director and lead spacewalk flight controller, respectively, from the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

However, the history-making spacewalk was canceled due to an oversight no one had bothered to consider: there was only one spacesuit available that was a suitable size and, more importantly, was safe for a woman to wear. McClain had discovered during an earlier spacewalk that a medium-sized hard upper torso (the "shirt" of ...

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