Creatures of Cain: The Hunt for Human Nature in Cold War America


Product Details

Princeton University Press
Publish Date
6.5 X 1.6 X 9.4 inches | 1.85 pounds

Earn by promoting books

Earn money by sharing your favorite books through our Affiliate program.

Become an affiliate

About the Author

Erika Lorraine Milam is professor of history at Princeton University. She is the author of Looking for a Few Good Males: Female Choice in Evolutionary Biology.


"A multifaced and original discussion of the curious life of the 'killer ape' theory within American culture."---Marcia Holmes, Times Higher Education
"Why have biologists come to characterize human behavior as innately violent? In this exciting book exploring the cultural impact of science, Erika Lorraine Milam shows how postwar authors increasingly came to regard human beings as little more than cavemen with a territorial imperative--and reveals momentous shifts in twentieth-century American culture."--Janet Browne, author of Charles Darwin: A Biography and editor of The Quotable Darwin
"In this brilliantly creative and eye-opening book, Erika Lorraine Milam shows how the Cold War radically transformed popular and scientific attitudes towards human nature. Though eugenics went out of fashion after World War II, new theories of innate human aggression came to rationalize and simplify a violent world--a development with wide-ranging ramifications at the time as well as disturbing legacies and parallels today. Milam teaches once again that appeals to nature always turn out to be politics by other means."--Samuel Moyn, Yale University
"Milam provides a new understanding of how scientists and their publics negotiate knowledge production on topics of significant political meaning. Creatures of Cain is an important book, especially in our current political environment."--Jamie Cohen-Cole, author of The Open Mind: Cold War Politics and the Sciences of Human Nature
"Milam's fine book explores the renewed fascination in postwar America with the roots of human aggression and so makes an important contribution not only to the history of science but also to our understanding of the broader American postwar context."--Hunter Heyck, author of Herbert A. Simon: The Bounds of Reason in Modern America and Age of System
"Erika Lorraine Milam's magisterial account of the sciences of human nature in Cold War America weaves together ideas and politics, vivid personalities and scientific evidence, mass-media hype and arduous fieldwork, educational reform and daring movies, all against the background of the tumultuous decades between Sputnik and Watergate. It is a very human story about trying to understand what it means to be human. It is also a whopping good read."--Lorraine Daston, director, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science
"Coupling her study with research shifting from humankind's inclination for violence to their more destructive treatment of the environment will reveal that those same factors will continue to remain progressive."---G. Donato, Choice Reviews
"[A] fascinating and very well-documented account of disputes about human nature. . . . A major work like Creatures of Cain: The Hunt for Human Nature in Cold War America informs and intrigues, it raises questions, and points to avenues of more research. [Erika] Milam is to be congratulated."---Michael Ruse, The Quarterly Review of Biology