The Emperor's Embrace

Reflections on Animal Families and Fatherhood

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About The Book

Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson's "marvelous" (Jane Goodall) New York Times bestseller, When Elephants Weep, made us re-evaluate the emotional lives of animals. And in his follow-up New York Times bestseller, Dogs Never Lie About Love, Masson reflected with "intelligence and originality" (Los Angeles Times Sunday Book Review) on the emotional world of dogs. Now, in The Emperor's Embrace, Masson offers a remarkable look at one of the most fulfilling roles in the animal world: fatherhood.
With fascinating insight, impeccable research, and captivating writing, controversial psychoanalyst Jeffrey Masson, a new father himself, introduces us to the world's best dads. He takes us to such places as Antarctica, as he explores how emperor penguin fathers incubate the eggs of their young by carrying them around on their feet for two months, nestled beneath a special brood pouch. And he tells us how, once the babies hatch, the fathers snuggle the babies on their feet until the mother returns from her time at sea, feeding them a special milk-like substance until her arrival. Masson, a superb storyteller, showcases the extraordinary behavior of outstanding fathers, heroes among animals, including:

  • the wolf -- and why wolves make good fathers and dogs don't
  • the beaver, who encourages his young to cling to his tail as he navigates through ponds
  • the sea horse, the only male animal that gives birth to its young
  • the marmoset, the South American monkey who carries his babies for the first two years of their lives wherever he goes.

Masson also examines nature's worst fathers: lions, langurs, bears -- and humans. He shows that when a father does care for his young, as with the beaver, we immediately look for a biological and not an emotional explanation. But Masson demonstrates that for these animals, as with humans, fatherhood is a profound, all-encompassing experience.
Groundbreaking, compelling, inspirational, Masson's unique look at one of nature's most venerable institutions takes us to animal habitats around the world, yet always returns to the heart. For animal lovers, fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters everywhere, The Emperor's Embrace is a book that will forever change our perceptions of parenthood and family love.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atria Books (February 28, 2001)
  • Length: 272 pages
  • ISBN13: 9780743417808

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Raves and Reviews

Jane Goodall Jeff Masson brings the behavior of his animal subjects vividly and enchantingly to life....Truly fascinating.

Los Angeles Times Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson is our boldest speculator.

The Globe and Mail (Toronto) A dazzling smorgasbord of stories about fatherhood in the animal kingdom. Masson's genius is his ability to ferret out common denominators....A very timely contribution.

Marc Bekoff, professor of biology, University of Colorado at Boulder Fellow of the Animal Behavior Society; co-author of Nature's Life Lessons and editor of Encyclopedia of Animal Rights and Welfare The Emperor's Embrace is must reading as we enter the twenty-first century....I recommend this book to all people who want to make a better world for future generations.

Mark Kurlansky, author of Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World and The White Man in the Tree and Other Stories A valuable and fascinating contribution to the debate on man's relation to nature. Even for those who disagree, the wit of Jeffrey Masson's argument and the thousand little facts and anecdotes he serves with it make this book a pleasure.

Richard Wrangham, chair, biological anthropology Department of Anthropology, Harvard University The Emperor's Embrace is an ode to fatherhood. Masson's celebration of exotic parenting styles, from penguins and seahorses to his own family, becomes a vibrant plea for the care we should all takecare of our children, of each other, and of other species. Here is a passionate argument for the subjective experience of consciousness, the importance of individuals, and the joy of animals.

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