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Chimpanzee Politics: Power and Sex among Apes Paperback – August 30, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0801886560 ISBN-10: 0801886562 Edition: 25th anniversary

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press; 25th anniversary edition (August 30, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801886562
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801886560
  • Product Dimensions: 9.7 x 6.8 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #134,078 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The great apes, like humans, can recognize themselves in mirrors. They communicate by sound and gesture, form bands along what can only be called political lines, and sometimes engage in what is very clearly organized warfare. (Less frequently, too, they practice cannibalism.) In Chimpanzee Politics Frans de Waal, a longtime student of simian behavior, analyzes the behavior of a captive tribe of chimpanzees, comparing its actions with those of ape societies in the wild. What he finds is often not pleasant: chimps seem capable of astonishing deviousness and savagery, which has obvious implications for the behavior their human cousins sometimes exhibit. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

An excellent book... Just as fresh and thought-provoking in 2008 as it was in 1983.

(Laelaps)

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Customer Reviews

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Instead of preconceived notions of good guys and bad guys, you see how it's all self-interest.
Loretta G. Breuning
For me, his most interesting observations were of the key role older females often play as mediators in conflicts between adult males vying for dominance.
Ballet Fan
This book was written for the layman, and its ease of reading makes it accessible to a wide range of readers.
Debbie Lee Wesselmann

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By C. Davis VINE VOICE on May 23, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Chimpanzee Politics: Power and Sex among Apes was a very disturbing book to read. Perhaps this is because of the way Franz de Waal chose to end the book. The story about how Luit finished his reign as "alpha male" was extremely upsetting.

One of the key themes in the book is that so called political behavior is rooted at a level of development that is below cognitive and is as much instinctive as it is learned. Learning about the male chimpanzee's quest for dominance, it makes one wonder how much our behavior is motivated by inherent drives that are not only irrelevant in modern cultures, but are unknowable by those who experience the motivation.

This book has changed the way I look at and understand the word around me.

I strongly recommend this book, but it is not for the faint-hearted.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By J. R. Derry on March 26, 2001
Format: Paperback
excellent book. de waal's thesis, as i understand it, is finding and exposing analogies to human behavior among other animals in order to better understand human behavior (a thesis he extends in _good natured_ to show that our "animal" behaviors are also behaviors of kindness and compassion) _chimpanzee politics_ reads like a novel as it follows chronicles the group dynamics of a chimpanzee colony over several years; and in those group dynamics we see enough sex, scheming, and politics to fuel a soap opera or election campaign. the mirror that de waal holds up to us through this book is at once funny, fascinating, and humbling. if one reason you read novels is to appreciate the universality of the human condition (that is, that you like to live vicariously in other times or places to experience conditions as other humans do), then get this book and prepare yourself to appreciate just how universal much of our condition really is. you might be surprised at just how easily you vicariously experience life as chimpanzees do.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Brian Switek on January 8, 2008
Format: Paperback
In the year I was born the Dutch primatologist Frans de Waal delivered a highly popular and influential book about the chimpanzees of Arnhem Zoo, the Netherland facility housing the largest captive population of the apes in the world. At first such a book might not have seemed so exciting, the well-known studies of Jane Goodall or Diane Fossey among apes in Africa making a group of chimpanzees in a zoo seem bland by comparison, but de Waal took advantage of the opportunities for detailed observation the captive setting provided and painted a vivid picture of the complex social life of chimpanzees in Chimpanzee Politics. Twenty-five years after its first publication, the book has recently been updated with new information about the chimpanzees of Arnhem and a selection of color photographs, the supplemental materials adding to what was already an excellent book.

The true strength of Chimpanzee Politics lies in de Waal's ability to guide the reader step-by-step through the complex social interactions of the chimpanzees, the story of the various dominance shifts and reconciliations being fairly easy to follow. Even when some of the interactions become a little confusing, the book includes a smattering of diagrams that help to show how the groups feelings toward a certain member oscillated back and forth over time, for example. These are especially helpful as de Waal shows that while physical strength or the ability to beat another chimpanzee in a one-to-one confrontation is important, coalitions and support from other members of the group can make or break dominance hierarchies in ways that we might not expect. Indeed, the males Luit, Nikki, and Yeroen are the main "characters" of this tale, each having their time at the top (but only through cooperation and coalitions).
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Njugka Hills on December 18, 2001
Format: Paperback
Chimps, it is said, are not able to perform cognitive tasks that a three-year-old human could master with ease. THis book shows how tricky it is to compare human and chimpanzee intelligence: the machiavellian chimpanzee princes in this gripping saga may not read or write, but appear to grasp the long-term consequences of their day-to-day activities, and plot deviously to gain power in the quicksand of shifting alliances. No three year old child has this kind of concentration and determination, to my knowledge! It makes for gripping reading, and raises fascinating questions about the evolution of our own intelligence, social hierarchies and power-seeking instincts. You'll want to read it again as soon as you've finished...
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Bradd E. Libby on October 27, 2002
Format: Paperback
This a a book that has gotten more attention for what people have said about it than for what is actually inside. Though there are some graphs and tables, don't let them scare you away: the text reads like a novel and certainly isn't overly technical or formally scientific. The story is a fascinating recollection principally about the sex and power struggles among a group of chimpanzees that lived in a zoo in the Netherlands in the mid 1970's.
Some have claimed that the author has advocated using the complexities of chimpanzee social structure to shed light on human politics, but, if anything, the exact opposite is true: de Waal says very little abut non-chimpanzee societies until the last chapter and, throughout the book, freely and unapologetically employs human intentions, actions, and emotions to shed light on chimp culture.
If you're prepared to cast aside any preconceived notions you may have, this book makes an enjoyable introduction to pop-sci primatology.
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