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Power, sex, violence and kindness: these four broad-spectrum categories encompass much of human behavior, so it's only fitting that they're also the primary subject material for Frans de Waal's (The Ape and The Sushi Master) book Our Inner Ape. The few (but deeply detailed) chapters are a mesmerizing read that spans biology, child psychology, postmodern theorists and fundamental morality, using tales of stern chimps, and sexy bonobos to examine humans' place between them. In the process, he examines why we need to know our place in the world, how our body language communicates feelings, and where the roots of empathy lie in mammalian life.
De Waal's respect for both his readers and his research subjects come shining through in the simple clarity he uses when describing both the endless sex of bonobo apes and the heartrending violence occasionally present in chimp hierarchal structure. By illustrating his points with a mixture of straight-from-research experiences and jokes at the expense of modern politicians, he keeps his ideas compelling for anyone with a basic understanding of evolutionary science without drifting towards the academic drone that could be expected of by a researcher of his experience.
You won't find specific conclusions concerning human nature, but instead a gentle, almost rambling look at two primate species with vastly different social networks and how, perhaps, humanity can learn from each to our benefit. A few of de Waal's lovely duotone photos (My Family Album: 30 Years of Primate Photography grace the end of the book, featuring close-up shots of the folks he's been writing about--chimps like Yeroen, Nikkie and Mama, and bonobo Kuif and adopted daughter Roosje are downright thrilling to see after reading such interesting stories about their lives. Jill Lightner --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Starred Review. Noted primatologist de Waal (Chimpanzee Politics) thinks human behavior cannot be fully explained by selfish genes and Darwinian competition. Drawing on his own primate research on chimpanzees and bonobos—our closest animal relatives—he shows how much we can learn from them about ourselves: our qualities of "fellow feeling and empathy" as well as our power-obsessed, violent side. We are "bipolar apes," de Waal says, as much like bonobos as like chimps. The latter are known for their viciousness and "red in tooth and claw" social politics, but bonobos offer a radically different social model, one of peace and hedonistic orgies; de Waal offers vivid, often delightful stories of politics, sex, violence and kindness in the ape communities he has studied to illustrate such questions as why we are irreverent toward the powerful and whether men or women are better at conflict resolution. Readers might be surprised at how much these apes and their stories resonate with their own lives, and may well be left with an urge to spend a few hours watching primates themselves at the local zoo.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Very good stuff.. The book has good lessons for humans to learn:
1) Who are we and where do we come from? We are not so unique as we think we are. Read more
Should be a required read of every college student regardless of major.Published 11 months ago by Mark Shrapnell
Interesting and data-rich. However, his reflections on social issues are, in my opinion, somehow trivial. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Ana L Valazza
I read this book for my anthropology class. I had also seen many documentaries mentioning Frans de Waal. It is fascinating and an easy read. I highly recommend it.Published 13 months ago by jan thomas
I purchased this for my 12yr old son to use for a science project. He loved the book and has taught us all so much from it. I have not personally read it, only skimmed a bit.Published 17 months ago by L. Jordan
This is a fun and easy read. It provides a number of interesting stories about chimp and bonobo communities and sets out an accessible and coherent discussion of the differences... Read morePublished 21 months ago by Timothy E. Kennelly
This book does makes you take stock of who we are as a species. The most Salient point was the misrepresentation of the commonly abused concept of "Survival of the Fittest" and the... Read morePublished on September 14, 2013 by Mister C
This book is an intriguing intro to the social lives of our two closest ancestors, chimps and bonobos. Read morePublished on September 2, 2013 by SirGarvey