The Dark Side of Man: Tracing the Origins of Male Violence

In The Dark Side of Man, Michael Ghiglieri, a biologist and protégé of Jane Goodall, takes on one of the most highly charged debates in modern science: the biological roots of bad behavior. Beginning with rape, and moving on to murder, war, and genocide, Ghiglieri offers the most up-to-date, comprehensive look at the male proclivity for violence.

In a strong narrative voice, he draws on the latest research and his own personal experiences—both as a primatologist and as a soldier—to explain that male violence is largely innate, a product of millions of years of evolution. In the process, he debunks many of our most clung-to, “politically correct” notions: that the differences between men and women are strictly due to socialization, that rape is really about power—not sex—and that genocide is only possible with a single madman at the helm. Well-argued, evenhanded, yet never dull, this important book illuminates the darkest impulses of the male psyche, and suggests ways for modern society to curb them.


“Ghiglieri is not one to shy away from controversy, and it is doubtful that every reader will agree fully with his argument, but he makes it vigorously.”

Scientific American

“A sweeping examintion of world culture and history.”

Boston Herald

“Michael P. Ghiglieri argues persuasively […] The documentation is thorough, the writing lucid, the topic unsettling. THE DARK SIDE OF MAN is bound to provoke some lively controversy.”

The Bloomsbury Review

“When linking violence to biology or evolution, there is always the risk of confusing what might be ‘normal’ […] with what is right […] And yet the issue Ghiglieri raises deserves a place in the discussion.”

Book Review Digest

“The book seized my attention and was difficult to put down […] Ghiglieri’s fascinating parallel treatment of human and chimp violence leaves the reader struck by the similarities […] I highly recommend this book. Ghiglieri’s analysis of male violence goes further than another book about male violence with an evolutionary perspective.”

APA Review

Awards & Accolades