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A Primate's Memoir: A Neuroscientist's Unconventional Life Among the Baboons [Paperback]

By Robert M. Sapolsky (Author)
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Item description for A Primate's Memoir: A Neuroscientist's Unconventional Life Among the Baboons by Robert M. Sapolsky...

The author offers a memoir of his two decades in the field studying Kenyan baboons as he describes the members of the baboon troop and their behavior and his interaction with the neighboring Masai tribe.

Publishers Description
In the tradition of Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey, Robert Sapolsky, a foremost science writer and recipient of a MacArthur Genius Grant, tells the mesmerizing story of his twenty-one years in remote Kenya with a troop of Savannah baboons.
"I had never planned to become a savanna baboon when I grew up; instead, I had always assumed I would become a mountain gorilla," writes Robert Sapolsky in this witty and riveting chronicle of a scientist's coming-of-age in remote Africa.
An exhilarating account of Sapolsky's twenty-one-year study of a troop of rambunctious baboons in Kenya, "A Primate's Memoir" interweaves serious scientific observations with wry commentary about the challenges and pleasures of living in the wilds of the Serengeti--for man and beast alike. Over two decades, Sapolsky survives culinary atrocities, gunpoint encounters, and a surreal kidnapping, while witnessing the encroachment of the tourist mentality on the farthest vestiges of unspoiled Africa. As he conducts unprecedented physiological research on wild primates, he becomes evermore enamored of his subjects--unique and compelling characters in their own right--and he returns to them summer after summer, until tragedy finally prevents him.
By turns hilarious and poignant, "A Primate's Memoir" is a magnum opus from one of our foremost science writers.

Citations And Professional Reviews
A Primate's Memoir: A Neuroscientist's Unconventional Life Among the Baboons by Robert M. Sapolsky has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Wilson Public Library Catalog - 12/31/2008 page 445
  • New York Times - 03/03/2002 page 20
  • Entertainment Weekly - 03/01/2002 page 73
  • Commonweal - 06/17/2005 page 27
  • Wilson Public Library Catalog - 01/01/2004 page 330

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Scribner
Pages   304
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.08" Width: 5.92" Height: 0.74"
Weight:   0.6 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Mar 12, 2002
Publisher   Scribner
ISBN  0743202414  
ISBN13  9780743202411  

Availability  0 units.

More About Robert M. Sapolsky

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Robert M. Sapolsky is a professor of biology and neurology at Stanford University and a research associate with the Institute of Primate Research, National Museum of Kenya. He is the author of A Primate's Memoir and The Trouble with Testosterone, which was a Los Angeles Times Book Award finalist. A regular contributor to Discover and The Sciences, and a recipient of a MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant, he lives in San Francisco.

Robert M. Sapolsky currently resides in San Francisco, in the state of California.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > General
2Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Professionals & Academics > Scientists
3Books > Subjects > Outdoors & Nature > Fauna
4Books > Subjects > Outdoors & Nature > Reference
5Books > Subjects > Science > Biological Sciences > Animals > Apes & Monkeys
6Books > Subjects > Science > Biological Sciences > Animals > General
7Books > Subjects > Travel > Africa > General
8Books > Subjects > Travel > Africa
9Books > Subjects > Travel > General

Reviews - What do customers think about A Primate's Memoir: A Neuroscientist's Unconventional Life Among the Baboons?

An All Time Favorite  Apr 9, 2008
This book is hard to classify: Is it autobiography? Primatolgy? Travel adventures? Humanist philosophy? Humor? Basically it is all of these and more. It is a real page turner. Sapolsky has a truly marvelous sense of humor that includes knowing how to laugh at himself. I rank it with in the top 10 favorite books I've ever read. Bravo!
Educational and gripping  Mar 27, 2008
This book is an excellent insight into the 20 year life of a biologist who grow as a person while studying baboons and navigating the up and downs of life in Kenya.
A fun little adventure  Mar 12, 2008
This is a fun recollection of Sapolsky's experiences in Africa.

Somebody looking for data might want to avoid it as the information is more about things that struck him through his observations with his baboon troop. Some would be reminded of Goodall's earlier books when he writes about his interactions with the baboon.

There are many chapters on what he went through and the people he meet and interacted.

Some are great such as Thomas who had the great ability to pull endless fish out of a river but it was offset by his other great ability to attract buffalo. As Sapolsky wrote: "Buffalo would scamper in from miles away to nail Thomas, toss him over their shoulders, and send his fish sailing into mudholes, thorn bushes, high into trees." Sapolsky comments about looking for him and find him cursing and spitting and cackling at some buffalo, threatening it with his trademark an astounding pelvic grind, as the monster approached.

That whole imagery made me laugh.

His own personal reflections of living in Africa are rather interesting as he interjects himself into the community. Some of his comments bring another picture to the Masai who many times are pictured as the noble warriors and yet they do questionable things.

Probably one disheartening thing is the corruption that existed and probably still exists. As he prided himself on being a New Yorker; he finds himself being conned and regularly pressed for bribes. And yet, he himself takes to conning people when his money runs out.

An outbreak of Bovine TB ravishes a Baboon troop and eventually hits his troop. Sapolsky finds himself unenviable task of killing Baboons as he tries to discover what is killing the Baboons and where is it coming from. Eventually, he figures it out and it involves corruption and the Masai. He can't even tell people about it because wealthy British hotel owners are against it and the local government is against it as it would hurt the tourist trade.

One thing I thought was interesting was his comments about Fosse. He is not a fan.

Overall it's a fun read.
Pure Poetry  Feb 15, 2008
This is a beautiful, poignant, fascinating and enlightening read. It's also a bit heart-wrenching. Despite the fact that it is ostensibly about baboons, each sentence within this book contains more humanity and feeling than a typical week of day to day living on our strange modern worlds.
A Student's Praise  Nov 10, 2007
I am a student of Bio-Anthropology, and I have to say that when it comes to bio-anthro, especially my specialty- Primatology- the textbooks NEVER tell you everything you need to know in order to be a good Primatologist, but Robert Sapolsky does in "A Primate's Memoir."

Sapolsky delivers a narrative that is at once fanciful and credible. Too bizarre to be taken as anything other than reality. The experience of the author as a budding scientist in the Kenyan Serengeti, coming of age amidst the incongruous corruption and stark beauty of the African continent, as he works his way through the American Academic Dominance Hierarchy while conducting a long-term study on Savannah Baboons. He mixes cross-cultural social commentary with humorous storytelling. It is literally a laugh-out loud kind of book, particularly for the budding anthropologist. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the field. In a way, it is like the primatological equivalent of "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," except that is all true. A brilliant book, which every anthropologist should read.

BTW, all anthro textbooks should have chapters dedicated to the trials and tribulations one must endure while living among other cultures, dealing with third world corruption, and knowing how to negotiate the African social arena. I feel more worldly for having read this masterpiece.

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