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A Primate's Memoir: A Neuroscientist's Unconventional Life Among the Baboons Paperback – March 12, 2002
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His memoir is, in the main, quite humorous, although Sapolsky flings a few darts along the way at the late activist Dian Fossey--who, he hints, may have indirectly caused the deaths of her beloved mountain gorillas by her unstable, irrational dealings with local people--and at local bureaucrats whose interests did not often coincide with those of Sapolsky's wild charges. It is also full of good information on primates and primatology, a subject whose practitioners, it seems, are constantly fighting to save species and ecosystems. "Every primatologist I know is losing that battle," he writes. "They make me think of someone whose unlikely job would be to collect snowflakes, to rush into a warm room and observe the unique pattern under a microscope before it melts and is never seen again." --Gregory McNamee --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Although it is now widely known that stress affects health, Mr Sapolsky's work has shown that this differs among individuals. He has also exploded the myth of the supremacy of the alpha male in primate groups. Among the baboons he shows complex social arrangements where important leadership functions are carried out by senior females; and what else but a complex social order would show - as his troop did - that lower ranking males suffer higher stress levels and greater ill health? After twenty years of on and off study Mr Sapolsky has naturally grown fond of the baboons. He gives them Old Testament names not from affection, but simply because they exhibit individual personalities. The King of the troop is naturally Solomon and Nebuchanezzar is a vengeful, attacking female.
The book is never sappy and does not romanticize the beasts and that is good - because wild animals they certainly are. A troop is an appropriate name for a group of baboons. Perhaps squad could work also because when approaching an unknown there is an element of military purposefulness and discipline about their behavior.Read more ›
The title of A Primate's Memoir is deliberately ambiguous--it is both Sapolsky's memoir and that of his baboon population, and his experiences and interactions with the outside world are remarkably similar to theirs. Leaving the relative safety of the game reserves and hitchhiking into dangerous territories during his "down time," Sapolsky describes his travels with enthusiasm, impeccable timing, and great, self-deprecating humor, subtly selecting details which show how similarly he and his baboon population deal with their worlds' uncertainties.Read more ›
The framework of the book is Sapolsky's decades-long study of a baboon group, but this is by no means the majority of the subject matter. Spending three months of every year in Kenya, Sapolsky witnesses its many political changes, makes lasting friendships with some of the locals, and gains a unique perspective from which to critique both his original and his adopted cultures (his chapter on various scams perpetrated against tourists, both in Kenya and New York, is hilarious).
The writing, often conversational and humourous, gains in power from this natural style. In the final chapter, disease strikes the baboon group Sapolsky has come to know so well, and his narration of the tragedy is simple, honest, and all the more devastating because of it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Having lived in East Africa recently, this is an amazing, comic, and foretelling story. A must read for anyone interested in Africa, conservation, evolution, or simply a good... Read morePublished 17 days ago by Juan G.
Surprising revelations of baboon culture, and insights into what it is to be in Africa during regional conflicts. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Landes H. Bell
I started to read this book because the idea of a study of primate social interaction was interesting. Read morePublished 2 months ago by readsalot
I enjoyed reading Mr. Sapolsky's memoir. He writes a lot of about his experiences as well as providing information. Read morePublished 3 months ago by gravytrain
I just finished reading this book (on Audbile, which is how I do most of my reading) for the second time in less than a year and it was just as wonderful the second time. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Rama Kocherlakota
Very entertaining, and a great glimpse into "the real Africa" (people and animals).Published 4 months ago by GreenBeanKnits
One of the best books ever. Sapolsky is smart as can be and just as funny.Published 6 months ago by NR