A Natural History of Love paperback






A Natural History of Love hardcover



It drove Ovid to anguise and Stendhal to exquisite suffering. It may be ignited by a sidelong glance or a good head of hair.  To Plato, it was the yearning for a sundered second self.  To some contemporary scientists, it may be a biochemical cocktail of oxytocin and phenylethylamine.  The subject is love, and in her latest book, poet and naturalist Diane Ackerman brings to it all the high-wire erudition and rapturous prose that made A Natural History of the Senses a national bestseller.

Ackerman combs through history, literature, biology, and pop culture in search of "the great intangible."  She juxtaposes Cleopatra with Abelard and Heloise, Freud with Blade Runner.  She explores the allure of adultery, the appeal of aphrodisiacs (including a Roman concoction made from rotting fish entrails), and the cult of the kiss.  She reveals the secrets of insatiable lovers like Casanova and Don Juan while baring the trauma of an entire society that has lost its ability to love.  Enchantingly written, stunningly informed, A Natural History of Love is the next best thing to love itself, a book that caresses, arouses, and transports. 



"Diane Ackerman and love were made for each other... The book swoops and swirls... [It is] fascinating... extravagant... insightful." — Boston Globe


"Wide-ranging... full of charming digressions and eccentric histories... eclectic, erudite, and full of surprises." — San Francisco Chronicle

“No one writes quite like Ackerman. She glides from from the peaks of poetry to the secretive valleys of science to the plains of personal musings with ease, apparent pleasure,  and a frankly feminine form of confidence... Here Ackerman marshals all her perceptive and synthetic abilities to consider love, ‘the great intangible’... As erudite,  sensual, sensitive, and brilliant as Ackerman is, she is also devilishly funny and quite mischievous.”   Booklist


A Natural History of Love is an audaciously brilliant romp through the world of romantic love. Using an evolutionary history as her launch pad, Ackerman takes off on a space flight in which she describes, defines, theorizes, analyzes, analogizes, explains, philosophizes, embellishes, codifies, classifies, confesses, compares, contrasts,  speculates, hypothesizes, and generally carries on like a hooligan about amatory love.  It’s a blast!” — Washington Post Book World


“In a glorious tumult, Ackerman looks at the siren call of mermaids, the Indy 500, and the ecstasies of a levitating seventeenth-century saint. And her exploration of young girls’ love for horses takes her to Lascaux, where she wonderfully and wonderingly describes the ‘floodtide of horses’ crashing down through our dreams.”  The New Yorker


“Entertaining and beautifully written.” — Cosmopolitan


“An atlas through the mysteries of the human heart.... Ackerman tackles her subjects with a Sherlock Holmes-ian zeal, employing equal parts philosophy, mythology, history,  science, even erotica, to shed light on this most noble of human emotions.”  USA Today


“Love is a chliché. Love is tired. Only Diane Ackerman, author of  A Natural History of Love--  the voluptuous companion volume to her best-selling  A Natural History of the Senses--  could make it fresh.”   Los Angeles Reader


“Her book is a voluptuous valentine to a most exalted emotion,  a lusty ballad to erotic pleasures,  and an ode to romantic attachment.... The sum total of these many parts is a book that is both absorbing and fascinating.”  Rochester Democrat & Chronicle


“When the irresistible subjects of love, lust, sex, courtship and marriage are left to the brilliant mind of poet Diane Ackerman the result is a fascinating new book.... a potent brew of biology, history, psychology, and religion, as she explores the many variances of love.” The Sunday Sun


“Studded with accurate, witty versions of all the facts that made biology class interesting, A Natural History of Love is a wide-angle vision of love — informing, reminding, and entertaining... with Ackerman’s dry, intelligent humor and engaged heart.” Harper’s Bazaar


“I love Diane Ackerman. There is something about her engagement with the world, her enthusiasm for people, animals, and nature that strikes a responsive chord in even the most cynical reader.” — The Bookpress


“Continuing her own love affair with life, Ackerman shares with readers her remarkable gifts of rapture, of erudition, and of insight to provide a guide to living in our highly perplexing era, a guide that is both amusing and inspiring.”  Des Moines Sunday Register


“By turns playful, serious, poetic, and scientific, Ackerman has drawn upon a vast variety of sources to create a compelling compendium of that great intangible, love.” — L.A. Daily News


“Ackerman’s language... is so rich as to be practically carnal... Her swath through love and passion is spectacularly encompassing, breezily anthropological,  and utterly engrossing.” — The Columbus Dispatch