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A Primate's Memoir: Love, Death and Baboons in East Africa

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Mar 11th, 2004, 03:15 PM
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A Primate's Memoir: Love, Death and Baboons in East Africa

Just finished this book that I bought at a discounted bookstore on Charing Cross Road on Saturday.

I can't really describe how much I enjoyed it, how wonderfully written it is, how touching and disturbing and how much I have learned from it about the people, the politics, the history and the present of East Africa.

I very strongly recommend it. It's not often that travel literature is so gripping and, as well as entertaining, so informative.


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Mar 11th, 2004, 03:18 PM
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It's by Robert M Sapolsky
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Mar 11th, 2004, 03:45 PM
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Actually I decided to write a review of the book for Amazon, and this is what I just wrote:



During the course of this book, which is also a partial biography of the author's life and career, we follow Sapolsky's research in Kenya as he studies "his" baboons.

In the early years he concentrates on observing baboon behaviour and correlating it to levels of stress hormones. He analyses by taking samples after darting the individuals he has come to know so well. In later years his research evolves and we continue to learn about the characters he has introduced to us. We begin to understand the structure of baboon society and the similarities to our own instinctive behaviours. We begin to see the baboons as individuals with their own personalities and foibles.

Interspersed with the surprisingly captivating insights into baboons are Sapolsky's escapades in Kenya and surrounding countries. As well as providing entertainment and excitement these often provide astonishing lessons in the politics, history and current situation in the nations of East Africa.

We become familiar too with Sapolsky's African friends and discover fascinating facts about the various tribes and groups that share the land. On some occasions Sapolsky shares touching experiences with those he encounters. On other occasions we read, with some trepidation, about incidents where the resentments simmering below the surface explode out into the open.

The entire account is exceptionally well-written and is both touching and disturbing, both informative and entertaining.

Whether you're an Africaphile or not, if you enjoy travel literature at all, I strongly recommend this book.
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