The High Cost of Loving

Zigzagging across the decades since his death in 1981, Blum assesses Harlow's legacy, breathlessly showcasing studies built on his ideas. She makes a powerful case for his influence on everything from the treatment of premature infants and abused children to our most basic contemporary ideas of child rearing. Blum also defends him against his many detractors, including '60s feminists, who saw Harlow's emphasis on the maternal role in child rearing as a new attempt at domestic enslavement, and animal activists, who haunted him late in his career. Paradoxically, as Blum notes, Harlow partly laid the groundwork for those very activists with his studies of primate intelligence.

Monkey dearest: what price knowledge?
photo: Courtesy the Harlow Primate Laboratory, University of Wisconsin–Madison
Monkey dearest: what price knowledge?

Details

Love at Goon Park: Harry Harlow and the Science of Affection
By Deborah Blum
Perseus, 336 pp., $26
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Ultimately, Love at Goon Park does what the best works of biography and cultural history do (and this book is a mixture of both), presenting the evidence in as complex and nuanced a form as possible, and leaving the reader to make the final judgment. A bombshell of a book, Goon Park will leave a thousand shards of shrapnel crashing inside your brain.

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