In Defense of Homo Sapiens

by Joan Marble Cook. Farrar. Straus & Giroux, $8.95. “The paradox of democracy,” according to Ms. Cook, is that “man’s rights and needs are being constantly magnified, while . . . his capacities and his ability to rule himself are being both deprecated and undermined.” She finds the latter half of the situation sinister, on the give a dog a bad name principle, and attributes it to misapplication, by enthusiastic but illinformed devotees, of the works of Darwin and Freud, and more recently to the Aubrey-Morris-Tiger crowd who would have us believe that “man is only a monkey shaved” (W. S. Gilbert, who did not believe a word of it). Ms. Cook’s demolition of all such pessimists is lively, intelligent, and backed by a wealth of sound reference. Bibliography.