Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Y: The Descent of Men” as Want to Read:
Y: The Descent of Men
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Y: The Descent of Men

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  236 ratings  ·  17 reviews
In his highly entertaining and enlightening book, the acclaimed geneticist and author Steve Jones offers a landmark exploration of maleness. With effervescent wit, Jones argues that men, biologically speaking, are the true second sex. Here he lays out the cases for and against masculinity -- exploring every biological aspect from the genesis of the Y chromosome onward -- b ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published May 4th 2005 by Mariner Books (first published January 1st 2002)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Y, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Y

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca SklootThe Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales by Oliver SacksOutliers by Malcolm GladwellMusicophilia by Oliver SacksThe Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
Radiolab Suggested Readings
125th out of 179 books — 185 voters
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca SklootMusicophilia by Oliver SacksA Primate's Memoir by Robert M. SapolskyBrain Bugs by Dean BuonomanoThinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
Radiolab Bookshelf
61st out of 95 books — 14 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 625)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
This book is another of Steve Jones' updates/responses to/homages to Charles Darwin's work. It's probably remarkably different in many ways, in terms of the content, but it is an interesting read. I do think Jones goes a bit too much into gender essentialism -- I played rough with my sister and the local boys, which the female-bodied are allegedly hard-wired not to do -- and sometimes his constant reiteration that the Y chromosome is dying out seems a little hysterical, like maybe it might give ...more
It took me a long time to get into this book, and even longer to finish it. The order seems a bit random, and the author tends to jump back and forth between topics anyway. He only very briefly discusses matters such as sexism, homosexuality and transgenderism/sexuality which I think should have been given more coverage. I was expecting the book to be filled with purely genetics and scientific fact, however it became clear quite quickly that a lot was closer to sociology and there was a lot of w ...more
Rahele Tavana
As typical of Steve Jones books, lots of jumping back and forth. You can't follow one story without being presented lots of different stories at the same time, but overall, an amazingly interesting book.
Danielle T
I haven't read Darwin's The Descent of Man yet so I can't tell if Steve Jones is trying to parallel structure here, though it's certainly a slimmer volume. A nice broad survey of all the things that make someone biologically male- hormones and genes that play a role in development, the mechanics of the penis, the diversity of sperm types across Animalia, tracing genealogy via the Y chromosome, etc. He provides a list of further reading for nonspecialists which could be handy, though because this ...more
Peter Kobryn
An interesting and illuminating book from the eminent scientist that covers much ground. He ranges across explanations of the biological differences between women and men being grounded in the different distribution of the X & Y chromosome and the weaknesses that this can create in the male. He covers sociological ground also as well as pure scientific explanation and I enjoyed reading it throughout. The only questions I would have related to the last chapter that seemed to be rather more sp ...more
Veronika KaoruSaionji
Poor and silly colection of sometimes very interesting facts about men (human males). But, it would be great if there could be some (much better) book about women (human females)! And similar good one about men (huma males), too.
Plus, the autor clearly very fear feminity, which can "to devour" him. Nothing for me. But I was able to read it whole - amazing me. :o)
But maybe, for (some?) male readers good book - I dont know, because I am female one. :o)
Apr 10, 2008 P. rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Sociologists/feminists/
Steve Jones' y, is an elegantly written discussion of maleness, masculinity, manhood, in the latin VIRTU. He touches all bases in a wry yet exhaustive manner. From his initial claims that man is truly the second sex to his exhaustive discussion of the penis and all penile issues and beyond, he does a masterful job.
Kirsty Darbyshire

Fabulous look at what makes men men and at all kinds of aspects of masculinity, all of the obvious ones and a few that aren't. Lots of genetic stuff as you'd expect but quite a lot that dives out into other areas of biology and beyond. Great writer as well as a good scientist.

Possibly because I don't own the chromosome in question, I did not find this as involving as Jones's other books, as I did not think that the chapters followed a logical order.

That being said, the science was well explained and the book contained a wealth of interesting information.
Genetic Cuckoo
A real page turner of a book. Wonderful and enlightening at the same time. It explored the origins of the Y chromosome and some interesting studies and findings regarding the evolution of sex and sexual reporduction. This is a must read for anyone interested in genetics.
Sheri Fresonke Harper
Steve Jones evaluates fatherhood and the Y chromosome, covering many topics. My review:
Tim Domagalski
Aug 18, 2008 Tim Domagalski rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: to men-women already know :-(
an informative, if sometimes uncomforable(for men) look at mens cotributions to reproduction, etc. A rather humbling experience
every american man should be forced to read the chapter about circumcision.

the rest of the book is great too.
Nina Mcneill
it was an explique of the genetic causation of male (humans) and i don't have enough science to really appreciate it.
evolution, genetics, sexual selection, etc, etc, etc. good stuff
Oct 19, 2008 Dionne added it
To be added if given a time
Chris marked it as to-read
May 23, 2015
Lau Ie
Lau Ie marked it as to-read
May 22, 2015
Tabby marked it as to-read
May 17, 2015
Sara Depirro
Sara Depirro marked it as to-read
May 13, 2015
Kali marked it as to-read
May 12, 2015
Terry marked it as to-read
May 09, 2015
Lori marked it as to-read
Apr 30, 2015
Catherine marked it as to-read
Apr 25, 2015
Jordan Elizabeth
Jordan Elizabeth marked it as to-read
Apr 22, 2015
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 20 21 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Murderer Next Door: Why the Mind Is Designed to Kill
  • Polar Obsession
  • Promiscuity: An Evolutionary History of Sperm Competition
  • Mapping Human History: Genes, Race, and Our Common Origins
  • The Price of Altruism: George Price and the Search for the Origins of Kindness
  • The Future Eaters: An Ecological History of the Australasian Lands and People
  • Monkeyluv: And Other Essays on Our Lives as Animals
  • A Mind for Murder: The Education of the Unabomber and the Origins of Modern Terrorism
  • The Wauchula Woods Accord: Toward a New Understanding of Animals
  • On the Origin of Tepees: The Evolution of Ideas (and Ourselves)
  • Microcosm: E. coli and the New Science of Life
  • When a Gene Makes You Smell Like a Fish: And Other Amazing Tales about the Genes in Your Body
  • I Have Landed: The End of a Beginning in Natural History
  • Why Big Fierce Animals Are Rare: An Ecologist's Perspective
  • Identically Different: Why You Can Change Your Genes
  • A Geography of Time: The Temporal Misadventures of a Social Psychologist, or How Every Culture Keeps Time Just a Little Bit Differently
  • The Earth After Us: What Legacy Will Humans Leave in the Rocks?
  • The Medici Giraffe and Other Tales of Exotic Animals and Power
John Stephen Jones is a Welsh geneticist and from 1995 to 1999 and 2008 to June 2010 was Head of the Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment at University College London. His studies are conducted in the Galton Laboratory. He is also a television presenter and a prize-winning author on the subject of biology, especially evolution. He is one of the contemporary popular writers on evolutio ...more
More about Steve Jones...
Darwin's Ghost: The Origin of Species Updated The Language of Genes Almost Like a Whale Darwin's Island: The Galapagos In The Garden Of England In The Blood: God, Genes And Destiny

Share This Book

“Freud's antique notion of women as diminished men is quite wrong. Biology instead reveals every man's battle to escape the woman within.” 1 likes
“However precise the results offered by paternity testers, the truth was recognized by societies that flourished long before they appeared: that fatherhood means more than genes alone.” 0 likes
More quotes…