Teenagers: A Natural History

David Bainbridge

Teenagers: A Natural History

During the second decade of human life, the body and brain undergo a profound and complex transformation, with emotions and intellect changing as rapidly and unpredictably as weight and height. These changes can be baffling - to teenagers and to those around them alike - but adolescence plays an important evolutionary role in who we become as adults and there are hard scientific facts behind the spots, the smells, and the sexual experimentation, as well as the existential angst, the anger, and the irresistible attraction to all the things that are bad for you. In clear, engaging and amiable prose, David Bainbridge explains the strange and wonderful science of the teenage years. 3.2 out of 5 based on 6 reviews
Teenagers: A Natural History

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Science & Nature, Psychology & Psychiatry, Family & Lifestyle
Format Paperback
Pages 304
RRP £13.99
Date of Publication February 2009
ISBN 978-1846271212
Publisher Portobello
 

During the second decade of human life, the body and brain undergo a profound and complex transformation, with emotions and intellect changing as rapidly and unpredictably as weight and height. These changes can be baffling - to teenagers and to those around them alike - but adolescence plays an important evolutionary role in who we become as adults and there are hard scientific facts behind the spots, the smells, and the sexual experimentation, as well as the existential angst, the anger, and the irresistible attraction to all the things that are bad for you. In clear, engaging and amiable prose, David Bainbridge explains the strange and wonderful science of the teenage years.

Reviews

The Financial Times

Alan Cane

[A] thoughtful but sometimes unsettling book... he seeks to persuade us that the teenage years are the high point of our lives (in biological terms, I am sure he is right). But for those of us who passed an enjoyable adolescence, the thought that the best is behind us must be depressing. And for those whose adolescence was less than wonderful, the thought of those missed opportunities for sex, drugs and general misbehaviour must be galling.

02/02/2009

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The Independent

Gail Vines

[A] friendly and lighthearted book... At times, his reductionist explanations seem a mite unconvincing, and he repeatedly stereotypes boys and girls, ignoring the vast differences within each sex. But he powerfully conveys the pressures on today's teenagers - physiologically primed for sex, yet discouraged from reproducing. As conflicts arise, beleaguered parents may find solace in Bainbridge's central theme: supporting children and teenagers is what adults are for, because that is why humans have evolved to live as long as we do.

13/02/2009

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The New Statesman

Cassandra Jardine

Drawing on evolutionary biology, palaeoanthropology, psychology, his own happy memories of being a Led Zeppelin fan, and a chirpy prose style, he examines the teenage years with reverence, not to say awe... Teenagers is an entertaining book full of quotable "Did you know . . . ?" facts or assertions. DYK, for example, that the age of puberty decreased by 12 days for every year of the past century?

05/02/2009

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The Sunday Times

Rod Liddle

The selling point of Teenagers is that David Bainbridge is a vet (well, the Clinical Veterinary Anatomist at Cambridge University), and that he is, therefore, observing his subjects in much the way that he might observe a semi-house-trained animal... most of the time, it's interesting, in the same way that descriptions of the Soviet gulags were interesting. Bainbridge has a rather chatty, simplistic and overfamiliar writing style, but as he's presumably more accustomed to addressing cocker spaniels than human beings, we shall not hold this against him.

01/02/2009

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New Humanist

Bill Thompson

[Bainbridge] clearly knows his science. This, along with an enviably lucid writing style, enables him to explain brain structure and physiology in an accessible way... However, when he gets away from straight science he can be irritatingly informal... The book is strangely silent on one of the biggest shifts in teenage existence at the moment: the impact of new audio-visual technologies... Even so, the book offers an illuminating exploration of adolescence.

01/01/2009

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The Guardian

Michael Fitzpatrick

To anybody exposed to moody, incorrigibly messy teenagers, swinging between episodes of exuberance and sloth, this book's offer that "a vet has the answers" has an immediate appeal. But closer inspection reveals that developmental biology, palaeoanthropology and neuroscience are not useful sources of guidance in dealing with human relationships.

28/02/2009

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