Among all the endogenous small molecules of our bodies, perhaps oxytocin and testosterone have garnered the most mystique, the supposed biochemical mediators of love and dominance, respectively.

In the popular imagination, we know what these molecules do. But biology isn’t simple. A single compound can have myriad effects throughout a body—depending on the relative concentrations of receptors in different organ systems, the same molecule might affect two people’s bodies very differently.

Testosterone unpacks dozens of studies on the role of testosterone in athleticism, psychology, and sexuality, attempting to separate the robust, significant findings from a swirl of hyperbolic summaries and news reports. (While reviewing the book, we chanced across conspiracy-theory-ish headlines bemoaning a drop in testosterone levels among young men, others touting testosterone as an anti-aging miracle drug. This sort of hype isn’t new: throughout the 1920s, celebrity doctor John Brinkley toured the country implanting goat testicles into the bodies...

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