In Defense of Love: An Argument (Hardcover)
On Our Shelves Now
From the acclaimed author of The Shakespeare Wars and Explaining Hitler comes a stirring manifesto on love in the modern age.
Who wrote the book of love?
In an impassioned polemic, Ron Rosenbaum—who has written books on the mysteries of Hitler’s evil, the magic of Shakespeare’s words, and the terrifying power of thermonuclear explosions—takes on perhaps his greatest challenge: the nature of love. Rosenbaum argues that what we know as love is imperiled now by the quantifiers, the digitizers, and their algorithms, who all seek to reduce love to electrical, chemical, and mathematical formulas.
Rosenbaum brings excitement to his thinking as he interrogates the neuroscience of love, with its “trait constellations,” and the efforts of others to turn all human lovers into numerical configurations. He asks us why our culture has become so obsessed with codifying and quantifying love through algorithms. The very capacity that makes us human, Rosenbaum argues, is being taken over by numerical methods of explanation.
In Defense of Love is more than an examination of the intersection of love with literature and science. It is a celebration of the persistence of a mysterious and uncanny phenomenon: the inexorable power of love.
About the Author
RON ROSENBAUM was a Phi Beta Kappa student of literature at Yale, and briefly studied at Yale Graduate School, before leaving to write. His work has appeared in Harper’s, The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, Esquire, Vanity Fair, Smithsonian Magazine, and Slate, among other publications. He was a columnist at the New York Observer and the White House correspondent for the Village Voice during Watergate. His book, Explaining Hitler, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year in 1998, has been translated into ten languages. Random House published a collection of his essays and journalism, The Secret Parts of Fortune, in 2000. In 2006, he published The Shakespeare Wars, which Cynthia Ozick called “a spectacular book.” He has been a member of the advisory board of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s publications project, and the editorial board of Lapham's Quarterly.
"[Rosenbaum is] a national treasure." —Michele Madigan Somerville
“[I]n this impassioned offering. . .Even staunch skeptics will have their heartstrings tugged.” —Publishers Weekly
“Ron Rosenbaum has done it again. The investigative humanist who dissected unsatisfactory explanations for evil in Explaining Hitler and for genius in The Shakespeare Wars applies his scalpel to reductionist brain-science notions about love with the same lively blend of erudition, insight, and humor that long ago established him as a leading voice in American letters. Share it with someone you love." —Timothy Noah, author of The Great Divergence
"In Ron Rosenbaum’s insightful, touching and surprising In Defense of Love, Rosenbaum manages to clobber all the theories and rhetoric that attempt to reduce that emotion to science. With Rosenbaum, love has finally met its perfect match." —Betsy Carter, author of Lost Souls at the Neptune Inn
"Ron's work is invariably awe-inspiring. I intend to purchase a copy at full price. The finest compliment you can give an author is not 'I read your book' or 'I loved your book' but 'I bought your book.'" —Teresa Carpenter, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing
“Of all the vocabularies that give love its dimensions, neuroscience is not just the most dismal; it’s the shortest on explanatory power. Following the poets—including Sappho, Chekhov, Philip Larkin, John Updike, Sheila Heti, Edith Wharton (especially her porn) and of course Shakespeare—Ron Rosenbaum’s In Defense of Love rescues the ecstatic, agonizing, galactic experience of love from its reduction to fMRI film. Read Rosenbaum and have your heart rent.” —Virginia Heffernan, author of Magic and Loss
"Rosenbaum offers a spirited and enjoyable defense of his version of love." —The Wall Street Journal
"Whether on Hitler's evil, Shakespeare's genius, or the nature of love, Ron Rosenbaum resists the lure of easy answers. . .I love Ron's book." —Errol Morris, Air Mail