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Chimpanzee Politics: Power and Sex Among Apes Paperback – Sep 1 2007

4.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 235 pages
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins Univ Pr; 25th anniversary ed edition (Sept. 1 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801886562
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801886560
  • Product Dimensions: 17.5 x 1.6 x 24.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 544 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #150,063 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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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 2008

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Format: Paperback
DeWaal deftly narrates three changes in leadership among the colony of chimps in a zoo in the Netherlands (not Yerkes in GA, as another reviewer claims). Unlike many animals, chimpanzees can not dominate one another by use of brute force. No chimp is so strong that a coalition of two other males (or a coalition of females) can not successfully challenge his dominate position. This means that the dominate (male) chimp can only remain dominate if he succedes in coalition building.
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".
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Format: Paperback
excellent book. de waal's thesis, as i understand it, is finding and exposing analogies to human behavior among other animals in order to better understand human behavior (a thesis he extends in _good natured_ to show that our "animal" behaviors are also behaviors of kindness and compassion) _chimpanzee politics_ reads like a novel as it follows chronicles the group dynamics of a chimpanzee colony over several years; and in those group dynamics we see enough sex, scheming, and politics to fuel a soap opera or election campaign. the mirror that de waal holds up to us through this book is at once funny, fascinating, and humbling. if one reason you read novels is to appreciate the universality of the human condition (that is, that you like to live vicariously in other times or places to experience conditions as other humans do), then get this book and prepare yourself to appreciate just how universal much of our condition really is. you might be surprised at just how easily you vicariously experience life as chimpanzees do.
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Format: Paperback
This a a book that has gotten more attention for what people have said about it than for what is actually inside. Though there are some graphs and tables, don't let them scare you away: the text reads like a novel and certainly isn't overly technical or formally scientific. The story is a fascinating recollection principally about the sex and power struggles among a group of chimpanzees that lived in a zoo in the Netherlands in the mid 1970's.
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.
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