Almost Human: A Journey Into the World of Baboons

Shirley C. Strum, Author, George B. Schaller, Designed by Random House (NY) $22.5 (294p) ISBN 978-0-394-54724-4
Anthropologist Strum was an unlikely candidate to study baboons in rural Kenya: her knowledge of animals and nature came from books; she lacked field experience and the requisite physical skills; and she had never yearned for adventure. But she adapted quickly to life in the wild, and her detailed observations over a 14-year period disprove the conventional wisdom about baboon behaviorthat their society is based on agggression and male dominance. She documents a peaceful society where friendship and reciprocity are more effective than aggression and females are the stabilizing force. This is an engaging story on two levelsthe baboons, of course, and Strum's gradual transformation from uncompromising scientist to humanist. There are interesting parallels and contrasts to Dian Fossey: both had problems with graduate students; unlike Fossey, Strum did not become emotionally involved with the animals, and she sought cooperation rather than battle with the natives. Strum also had support from a conservation and wildlife expert whom she later married. This volume is a worthy companion to Fossey's Gorillas in the Mist and Jane Goodall's In the Shadow of Man. Photos not seen by PW. Nature Book Association main selection; BOMC dividend selection. (November 9)
Reviewed on: 09/30/1987
Release date: 10/01/1987
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-0-393-30708-5
Paperback - 323 pages - 978-0-226-77756-6
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