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A Primate's Memoir: A Neuroscientist's Unconventional Life among the Baboonsby Robert M. Sapolsky
I never imagined that a book written by a primate behaviorologist would make me laugh out loud. Sapolsky is a born storyteller, and I found his experiences of twenty years in Africa studying baboons absolutely fascinating. You get to know the baboons, and feel sympathy for them as you would any character in the best of novels. You chuckle at the naiveté of the narrator as he describes his experiences with culture shock, and then wonder if you could have done any better. My favorite bit is his description of learning to tranquilize baboons with a blow gun. He gets so good at it he plots how to dart people coming into the movie theatre after he returns home in order to stay in practice.
Synopses & Reviews
In the tradition of Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey, Robert Sapolsky, a foremost science writer and recipient of a MacArthur Genius Grant, tells the mesmerizing story of his twenty-one years in remote Kenya with a troop of Savannah baboons.
“I had never planned to become a savanna baboon when I grew up; instead, I had always assumed I would become a mountain gorilla,” writes Robert Sapolsky in this witty and riveting chronicle of a scientist’s coming-of-age in remote Africa.
An exhilarating account of Sapolsky’s twenty-one-year study of a troop of rambunctious baboons in Kenya, A Primate’s Memoir interweaves serious scientific observations with wry commentary about the challenges and pleasures of living in the wilds of the Serengeti—for man and beast alike. Over two decades, Sapolsky survives culinary atrocities, gunpoint encounters, and a surreal kidnapping, while witnessing the encroachment of the tourist mentality on the farthest vestiges of unspoiled Africa. As he conducts unprecedented physiological research on wild primates, he becomes evermore enamored of his subjects—unique and compelling characters in their own right—and he returns to them summer after summer, until tragedy finally prevents him.
By turns hilarious and poignant, A Primate’s Memoir is a magnum opus from one of our foremost science writers.
"A witty concoction blending field biology, history, hilarious cross-cultural mishaps, and hair-raising adventure....brilliant." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"As funny and irreverent as a good ol' boy regaling his friends with vacation-from-hell stories...filled with cyncisim and awe, passion and humor..." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"What you have in your hands is the reason to read books." Pete Dexter, author of Paris Trout and The Paperboy
"This engrossing account of Robert Sapolsky's life in science...is brilliantly informative...and heartbreakingly acute." Norman Rush, author of Mating
"Sapolsky is a soulful, generous, and deeply intelligent guide. Loved him, loved his insights about these strange and distant cultures..." Caroline Knapp, author of Pack of Two
About the Author
Robert M. Sapolsky is a professor of biology and neurology at Stanford University and a research associate with the Institute of Primate Research, National Museums of Kenya. He is the author of The Trouble with Testosterone and Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers. A regular contributor to Discover and a recipient of a MacArthur Foundation genius grant, Sapolsky lives in San Francisco.
Table of Contents
Part 1. The Adolescent Years: When I First Joined the Troop
Part 2: The Subadult Years
Part 3: Tenuous Adulthood
Part 4: Adulthood
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