Thursday, March 02, 2006

Chimpanzee thoughts

For a long time chimpanzees were my favorite animal, indeed as a child I was truly obsessed with them--I had a stuffed-animal toy chimpanzee called Jim that was my most cherished possession in the world and then I read In the Shadow of Man (maybe I was seven, pretty young anyway) and it was really my ambition to be Jane Goodall and I was completely obsessed with this for some years. The obsession had various other more-or-less comical symptoms (if I had had a thousand dollars, I would have "adopted" a chimpanzee at the Philadelphia Zoo; for ten dollars I could only get the smallest primate on offer, the elephant shrew), but though I gave up on the idea of being a primatologist I still love primates and chimpanzees in particular and there is a great piece by Louise Bennett in this week's TLS, Chimpanzee thoughts (no subscription required). The books she's reviewing (both very favorably) are Robert Sapolsky's Monkeyluv and Frans de Waal's Our Inner Ape; I haven't read either of these, must get and read them immediately, those are two of my particularly favorite authors (Chimpanzee Politics is a hilariously illuminating book, and should be required reading for any Young Person trying to make his or her way ahead in the world especially at a large institution like a university or a newspaper or a school; and Sapolsky's A Primate's Memoir is one of the few books I have read as an adult that made me cry--but most of it is just very funny and smart and interesting, only the part about tuberculosis among the baboon pack is so sad).

1 comment:

  1. They were my favorites, too, although later that position was taken over by turtles. I never got nearly as serious in my interest as you seemed to have though. I'm going to buy A Primate's Memoir upon your recommendation. Yes, I'll be using your link, I hope you get some referral bonus although I realize even if you do it's probably just a few cents. (I'll do it a bit later so don't look for it just yet.)