A primate’s memoir by

15 April 2010

Genre: , ,
Setting: ,
A Primate's Memoirs - Robert M. Sapolsky

A Primate's Memoir - Robert M. Sapolsky

Love, death and baboons in east Africa
ISBN: 9780099285779 DDC: 599.865

I joined the baboon troop during my twenty-first year. I had never planned to become a savanna baboon when I grew up; instead, I had always assumed I would become a mountain gorilla.

I first came across a mention of Robert M. Saplosky on Metafilter and I was a little interested, so I did what any librarian might do, and ordered one of his books. To be honest my expectations weren’t all that high. My personal reading challenge for 2010 might be to read more non-fiction, but at the same time I know that non-fiction often requires more concentration and time than fiction, and then there was the fact that Sapolsky is a neurobiologist, and to be totally honest I really didn’t think it’d be all that interested. But I challenged myself, and was I ever glad that I did because from the opening page this really is a delight to read.

The book starts off with Saplosky explaining how he came to be doing field research on baboons in Kenya. And from a cursory glance you might think that was merely a book about a biologist studying baboons. Well it is that, but it is so much more too. It is a brilliantly written memoir, about, yes baboons, but also about Robert Sapolsky himself, his own personal “coming-of-age” story, his discovery of Africa, it is about some of the multitude of cultures he experienced in Africa, and about how some elephants once watched him suffering from diarrhoea. It is funny, and touching, and educational and you all should pick it up. Me, I’m off to order some more of his books.

Other reviews: Bardic ; Well-mannered frivolity ; Africa blog ; Dogear diary

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