Love at Goon Park: Harry Harlow and the Science of Affection, Perseus Publishing, October 2002
For eons, love was the province of poets and dreamers. Scientists considered it unworthy of real study. Yet, in the middle of the last century, one scientist had the courage and the curiosity to uncover the true power of love, and he forever changed the way we think about human relationships. This is the story of that great transformation.
In her 1994 book, The Monkey Wars, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Deborah Blum superbly balanced opposing views of the incendiary issue of primate vivisection. In Love at Goon Park, Blum does an equally skillful job balancing the pictures of that psychologist, Harry Harlow, as troubled soul and brutal abuser of his experimental subjects versus helper of humankind through brilliant science.
The psychologist Harry Harlow was a workaholic, a drunk, a bad father, a neglectful husband and, arguably, an unethical scientist. If his name isn't ringing any bells, that may be why. But Harlow also revolutionized psychology. As Deborah Blum's painstakingly fair "Love at Goon Park" conveys, Harlow's uglier foibles are the fraying edges of an eccentric figure. At his center, though, Harlow was committed to an undeniably good cause: love. Such complexities make Harry Harlow a biographer's dream -- and nightmare. Blum, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and self-described "primate junkie," criticized Harlow for his treatment of primates in her book "The Monkey Wars." It's clear that in this effort she wants to give Harlow's science, if not necessarily Harlow himself, its due. Regardless, it's a wonderfully written and maddening book, provoking, by turns, both delight and horror.
Listen to Deborah discuss the book:
NPR’s Science Friday
Psychjourney Audio Book Club