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Significant Others Paperback – June 20, 2002
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In a mountain meadow dripping with dew, we're following a group of gorillas on their daily rounds. It's a raw day and the clouds are hanging above and beneath us. The gorillas climb a steep, fern-coated hill to a saddle, and we all tumble over the crest into a huge salad bowl of a valley that is greener than green.
As if to ensure that such words won't provoke a glut of fieldworker wannabes, he is careful to mention the long hours, boredom, and physical suffering he and his colleagues must endure to earn such rewards. The inevitable collision of science with politics is especially pronounced in war-ravaged central Africa, where most great-ape work is conducted, and Stanford speaks plainly about life during wartime and his subjects' too-real threat of extinction. Significant Others gives the reader a fresh respect for apes as apes--not stunted people, not lab-dwelling curiosities, but uniquely wonderful beings in their own right. Just like us. --Rob Lightner --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Scientific American
Editors of Scientific American --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
A good, quick read that demonstrates our kinship to those "significant others".
Starting right from the beginning in his introduction, Stanford uses data and research theory to support his thesis and to refute the alternatives. He is not afraid to discuss behaviors that are of questionable regard. He delves into the subject of infanticide with similar gusto as he does in the chapter on language. Stanford's bottom line is the same throughout that we can use the studies of the great apes to explain our human nature and why problem behaviors like human infanticide persist today.
Overall Significant Others is a good read. Stanford does an exceptional job of providing research that supports the notion that many of our human behaviors and traits can be explained by similar behaviors studied in the great apes. Although this was not pointed out until the end of the book by supporting his thesis Stanford also was providing strong evidence for the importance of conserving and protecting the great apes.Read more ›
The book is wonderfully written and easy to read. The reason I am not giving it five is that the writer seems to digress from the central theme often. However, there is some wonderful elaboration of chimpanzee societies and their rituals, that brings a sense of eerieness to our own humanity and makes one sit up and think.
The book is wonderfully balanced and brings out many hitherto covered truths - such as the male dominated bastion of anthropology and hence masculine myths propagated, the views of the 'science' of evolutionary psychology etc. This is a book which allows you to develop your own theories after stating the facts of chimp interactions in a highly narrative and gripping story-format.
All in all a good book. If you are the kind who has a book collection of origins books which include Leakey and Jared Diamond, then Craig Stanford deserves his place there. If you are not a collector and are not planning on buying this, then check with your library and do read this, but read this you should - if indeed you have an interest in anthropolgy and the origins question.
I agree with his thesis, and I think he does a great job of making the case. His prose is readable and his enthusiasm is genuine. However there are some problems. In attempting to walk the tightrope of political correctness while conveying to the reader what he has learned as a scientist, Stanford sometimes slips into a fuzzy and inexplicit expression.
To begin with (p. 16) he contends that if women "crave" men with resources (he is attempting to answer David Buss, et al.) it is "mainly in patriarchal societies in which they must depend on men to obtain resources and power for them." This is gratuitous because, as Stanford himself notes on page 147, "Human societies are, political correctness notwithstanding, universally patriarchal." Whether women would behave differently if the societies were matriarchal (or otherwise) is unknown. Citing an isolated society in special circumstances that is matriarchal really does not prove the general case, although it does point to a range of possibilities, and that is good. However it is ingenuous to pretend that women are not looking for resources in a mate if they can find them. Why would a reasonable woman, given a choice, choose a poor, ineffective, unsuccessful man, to one who has the ability to help her provide for her children?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It is one the best books I have read on evolutionary psychology for many years, even if the author claims that his book is not about evolutionary psychology. Read morePublished on July 1, 2009 by Jean-marc Lepain
I was pleased at how fast my book was delivered and I was glad that it was still new and not scratched up or anything from shipping.Published on November 13, 2008 by S. Brooks
Stanford notes his thesis thus (page xi): "Apes and humans are cut from the same evolutionary cloth; all that fundamentally distinguishes us is posture, we being upright walkers... Read morePublished on March 22, 2007 by Steven Peterson
This writer is no Jared Diamond. I read about half the book and was ready to throw it across the room. Maybe I'm not ready to consider infanticide and his other grim subjects. Read morePublished on December 12, 2005 by Bookworm
While the author has many axes to grind-not all related to the subject, the book is worth reading.Published on September 20, 2005 by K. W. West
I have not read this book, but judging from other reviews as well as the editor notes, it sounds like the author is simply repeating the ideas of researcher Desmond Morris, who has... Read morePublished on July 28, 2004 by Brett Mac
Mr. Stanford has written yet another fascinating and gripping book about human origins and primate behavior that is easy for the lay person to read and understand.Published on January 31, 2002 by Rachel