cover image MY FAMILY ALBUM


F. B. M. De Waal, Frans de Waal, . . Univ. of California, $29.95 (174pp) ISBN 978-0-520-23615-8

In this absorbing collection of 128 duotones, primatologist Waal shares evidence he has collected over the past 30 years ton primate sociability and emotional intelligence. Rather than harp on the tired theme, "they're more like us than you think," Waal instead offers warmly personal explanations of the impressive diversity of behavior among primate species, including chimpanzees, baboons, macaques, capuchin monkeys and bonobos. Humor and personality are counterbalanced by deftly inserted scientific concepts and theories, and Waal's expressive photos draw viewers into the "soap opera" of the primates' lives. A chimpanzee angrily demanding his food back from a thief is contrasted with a macaque monkey meekly allowing a higher-ranking female to remove stored food from his mouth. "If we consider a range of dominance 'styles,' from egalitarian to despotic, rhesus monkeys are clearly at the latter end of the spectrum," says Waal. In contrast, bonobos, pictured in a range of unforgettable activities, including French-kissing, copulating missionary style and spinning on a rope until getting dizzy, are "the hippies of the primate world." While the printing is disappointingly dim and poorly contrasted, this book crosses the species barrier with grace. (Oct. 16)