Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men

Mara Hvistendahl. PublicAffairs, $26.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-58648-850-5
This extraordinary debut from Mara Hvistendahl, award-winning writer and correspondent for Science magazine, reveals the fascinating yet terrifying state of sex ratio imbalance. Drawing on research and her experience living in China, where the one-child policy still holds sway, Hvistendahl nimbly shifts between quantitative data and ethnographic reports. As brides or prostitutes, women in Asia, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East are still treated as a commodity. With an estimated 160 million females missing from the Asian population, there is the added crisis of "surplus men," thus causing "rampant demographic masculinization," and carrying with it the possibility of increased social instability and violence. By analyzing sociological trends between affluence and birth, especially amidst the current boom of China and India, and providing sound historical overviews of how cultural traditions and governmental policies have evolved, Hvistendahl reveals the true extent of entrenched ideologies and moreover, the lack of intervention from oblivious officials. Her exposé on prenatal sex selection brims with bold judgments that shed light on a culturally sensitive issue. A definitive text on demographic change and its startling consequences that is both thorough and thoroughly engaging. (June)
Reviewed on: 07/11/2011
Release date: 06/01/2011
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