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Next of Kin: My Conversations with Chimpanzees Paperback – Sep 1 1998
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For three decades, primatologist Roger Fouts has been involved in language studies of the chimpanzee, the animal most closely related to human beings. Among his subjects was the renowned Washoe, who was "endowed with a powerful need to learn and communicate," and who developed an extraordinary vocabulary in American sign language. Another chimpanzee, Fouts writes, "never made a grammatical error," which turned a whole school of linguistic theory upside down. While reporting these successes, Fouts also notes that chimpanzees are regularly abused in laboratory settings and that in the wild their number has fallen from 5,000,000 to fewer than 175,000 in the last century.
From Library Journal
In the early 1970s, Allen and Beatrix Gardner performed groundbreaking research in language by teaching American sign language (ASL) to a young female chimpanzee named Washoe. Hired to work with Washoe on this project was a budding psychologist named Roger Fouts. In this work, Fouts (psychology, Central Washington Univ.), codirector of the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute, unfolds a fascinating account of how Washoe and four other chimps learned to communicate with humans and with one another via ASL, shattering the concept put forth by Herbert S. Terrace in Nim (1979) that language was a defining barrier between humans and other animals. Fouts also breaks another barrier?declaring love for his research subjects, considering the chimps as his extended family. His actions to improve life for his chimpanzees, he notes, and promote humane treatment of all apes in captivity have adversely affected his professional career. Recommended for academic and public libraries.?Raymond Hamel, Wisconsin Regional Primate Research Ctr. Lib., Madison
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
I cannot express adequately how moving and instructive this account is. It will affect you on a deeply emotional level - I can't imagine how anyone can emerge from this story unchanged. I highly recommend this book for all readers, from teenagers to adults, from casual to serious readers.
The book tells story of a young grad student who falls into a cross-fostering experiment with a young chimpanzee named Washoe. Two professors are raising her as a human child and teaching her sign language. Fouts ends up as Washoe's lifelong caretaker and friend, traveling with her as she is moved from university to university, trying to protect her against a system that views her as an unfeeling piece of property. Along the way other chimpanzees join him and Washoe, until he has a small family of chimps, all capable of sign language, to care for.
The book is remarkable for many reasons. The narrative is interesting, clearly explained, and easy to read, even when Fouts discusses the physiology of language and evolution. The story is fascinating, the antics of the chimps are hilarious and eye-opening, and Fouts' journey to find Washoe and her family a good home (from Reno to Oklahoma to Washington) is determined and inspiring. The subject matter is phenomenal. Reading about Washoe's son, Loulis, learning sign language from her (the first animal to be taught a human language by another animal), the interactions between the chimps and humans (Lucy, who brews tea and serves it to Fouts every morning) and the brief legal history of the chimpanzees as research subjects, is incredible.
Read this book with an open mind. It will change you.
Most recent customer reviews
Quelle histoire! Je suis passé par toute la gamme des émotions! J'ai beaucoup appris sur notre cousin, le chimpanzé, mais aussi sur son histoire avec l'humain. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Catherine B.
This was the best book I've read in years. It is extremely moving, and just changed me as a person. Read morePublished on July 8 2004
As a student of Dr. Foutes at CWU, we were assigned to read this book as part of his class. Before I started reading it, I thought it would be another boring psych book. Read morePublished on June 26 2003 by Zachary Kroger
"Next of Kin" is really several stories interwoven into one book. It is first and foremost the story of a chimp, Washoe, but also of the journey on which she takes Roger Fouts. Read morePublished on April 8 2003 by Bukkene Bruse
This is a really wonderful book. The relaxed style draws you in easily, and the mixture of science and compassion make this a unique read. Read morePublished on Jan. 17 2003 by Graymac
I love this book! Roger Fouts brings the chimpanzee's in his life in to clear focus for us! This is a superb mix of entertainment and education. Dr. Read morePublished on July 17 2002 by Jean Greek
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