A Primate's Memoir
A Neuroscientist's Unconventional Life Among the Baboons
By Robert M. Sapolsky
(Scribner, Paperback, 9780743202411, 304pp.)
Publication Date: March 5, 2002
"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.
Robert M. Sapolsky is the author of several works of nonfiction, including A Primate's Memoir, The Trouble with Testosterone, and Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers. He is a professor of biology and neurology at Stanford University and the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation genius grant. He lives in San Francisco.
Rob Nixon The New York Times Book Review A Primate's Memoir is the closest the baboon is likely to come...to having its own Iliad.
Susan Salter Reynolds Los Angeles Times Sapolsky has a huge appetite for life...He writes exactly as if he's telling stories around a fire in the bush.
Lynn Yarris Newsday A Primate's Memoir flies along like a well-paced and finely crafted novel...[giving] us a cast of characters as memorably colorful as any that Dickens ever created.