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My Family Album: Thirty Years of Primate Photography Hardcover – October 16, 2003


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 174 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; First Edition edition (October 16, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520236157
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520236158
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,167,741 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this absorbing collection of 128 duotones, primatologist Waal shares evidence he has collected over the past 30 years ton primate sociability and emotional intelligence. Rather than harp on the tired theme, "they're more like us than you think," Waal instead offers warmly personal explanations of the impressive diversity of behavior among primate species, including chimpanzees, baboons, macaques, capuchin monkeys and bonobos. Humor and personality are counterbalanced by deftly inserted scientific concepts and theories, and Waal's expressive photos draw viewers into the "soap opera" of the primates' lives. A chimpanzee angrily demanding his food back from a thief is contrasted with a macaque monkey meekly allowing a higher-ranking female to remove stored food from his mouth. "If we consider a range of dominance `styles,' from egalitarian to despotic, rhesus monkeys are clearly at the latter end of the spectrum," says Waal. In contrast, bonobos, pictured in a range of unforgettable activities, including French-kissing, copulating missionary style and spinning on a rope until getting dizzy, are "the hippies of the primate world." While the printing is disappointingly dim and poorly contrasted, this book crosses the species barrier with grace.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Scientific American

"Human laughter derives from the primate's 'play face.' Not only do the human and ape expressions look alike--with half-open mouth and relaxed muscles around the eyes--the accompanying sounds, too, have much in common. In bonobos, laughter is a hoarse, rhythmic breathy sound heard especially during intense tickling matches. In the ... photo, a juvenile bonobo shows the 'classic' play face with the upper teeth covered." So writes de Waal in this book of exceptional photographs and witty, informative captions. One of the world's foremost primatologists, he is C. H. Candler Professor of Primate Behavior at Emory University and director of the Living Links Center at Yerkes Primate Center in Atlanta.

Editors of Scientific American


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By klavierspiel VINE VOICE on December 27, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Frans de Waal's collection of primate portraits covers various species of monkeys in many social situations. Long hours spent with his subjects means that Waal had their total trust when photographing them. Thus, his subjects have a natural, unforced manner that allows their true nature to shine through. Waal's accomplishment, in this occasionally hilarious, frequently touching, but always fascinating collection of photographs is that he transcends the notion that the value of primates lies in how much they are like humans. His texts and pictures reveal them not as inferior versions of homo sapiens, but simply as @what they are: intelligent, sensitive, highly socially evolved creatures. This is a beautiful and fascinating book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Debbie Lee Wesselmann TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 29, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Noted primatologist Frans de Waal has put together a beautifully printed pictorial tribute to primates. In high quality black-and-white photographs, he documents similarities and differences among non-human primates in areas as diverse as play, confrontation, sex, familial ties, and social activities. The accompanying text describes not only the meaning behind the pictures but also, in true de Waal form, how they relate to human behavior. Although de Waal is a scientist, this concise and clearly written book is meant for the lay reader.
De Waal's specialty is the study of non-human primates in captivity, so the majority of these photographs do not show monkeys and apes in their native habitat. Instead, you'll find remarkable close-ups of expressions and interactions that capture moments of the individual lives. Although de Waal is best known for his study of chimpanzees and bonobos, he includes photographs of macaques, capuchins, baboons, and snow monkeys.
This book is a real treat. I recommend it highly for anyone who has an interest in animal life.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Bukkene Bruse VINE VOICE on April 3, 2004
Format: Hardcover
"My Family Album" catalogs 30 years of de Waal's black and white photographs of both wild and captive primates. The bulk of the shots are of chimps and bonobos, but a third are of monkeys and there are striking photographs all around. While the principle effect of the book is to get across the intelligence, complexity and beauty of these fellow animals, there are enough funny faces for the book to work on that level.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Andy on June 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book's format is essentially a picture a page, with a paragraph to describe it.

There are nine species of primates featured in this book, most prominently bonobos and chimpanzees. There are also macaques, capuchins, and baboons (among others) shown as well.

The photos capture candid, sometimes poignant moments, in the lives of our evolutionary cousins. The caption paragraphs often offer a humorous or anecdotal story about the featured primate.

My only complaint is that other apes (orangutans, gorillas, gibbons) weren't featured at all, but Frans de Waal didn't do extensive studies of those species, and so it makes sense he didn't have the opportunities to photograph them.

The book is what it is, not a scientific work, but more of an art project. I'd imagine kids would enjoy looking at these pictures quite a bit. I know my inner child sure did.
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