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Chimpanzee Politics: Power and Sex Among Apes Paperback – Sep 1 2007
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The great apes, like humans, can recognize themselves in mirrors. They communicate by sound and gesture, form bands along what can only be called political lines, and sometimes engage in what is very clearly organized warfare. (Less frequently, too, they practice cannibalism.) In Chimpanzee Politics Frans de Waal, a longtime student of simian behavior, analyzes the behavior of a captive tribe of chimpanzees, comparing its actions with those of ape societies in the wild. What he finds is often not pleasant: chimps seem capable of astonishing deviousness and savagery, which has obvious implications for the behavior their human cousins sometimes exhibit. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
An excellent book... Just as fresh and thought-provoking in 2008 as it was in 1983. Laelaps 2008See all Product Description
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Each of the "coups" DeWaal describes took place either because the dominate male became too greedy, or because another male built a stronger coalition. Similarly, the dominant make needs the cooperation (or at least neutrality) of most of the (more numerous, but weaker individually) females of the colony.
The comparison to human politics is right on the money. While chimpanzee politics does not have the veneer of ideology that covers the nitty gritty of human politics, I strongly suspect that the type of favors, distribution of goodies, and raw sex that DeWaal describes as the "currency" of chimpanzee politics is much closer to the way human politicians actually operate than most of us would like to admit.
If a Martian were to observe the functioning of the U.S. Sentate--without being able to understand a word anyone says, but with the ability to observe every transaction, day and night, over a period of sereral years, I suspect that the Martian's description of our politics would read very similarly to that of DeWaal's. Of course, for all we know, chimps too have a "language" which permits them to cover what appears to us to be raw politics with "political platforms".Read more ›
Some have claimed that the author has advocated using the complexities of chimpanzee social structure to shed light on human politics, but, if anything, the exact opposite is true: de Waal says very little abut non-chimpanzee societies until the last chapter and, throughout the book, freely and unapologetically employs human intentions, actions, and emotions to shed light on chimp culture.
If you're prepared to cast aside any preconceived notions you may have, this book makes an enjoyable introduction to pop-sci primatology.
Most recent customer reviews
Having read a few other books on animals, this book was a breath of fresh air. It did not reduce animal behaviors as spontaneous or irrational. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Nat Hawthorne
Chimps, it is said, are not able to perform cognitive tasks that a three-year-old human could master with ease. Read morePublished on Dec 18 2001 by Njugka Hills
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