Chimpanzee Politics: Power and Sex among Apes / Edition 1

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1989 Trade paperback New. No dust jacket as issued. Text in English, German. Trade paperback (US). Glued binding. 232 p.

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The first edition of Frans de Waal's Chimpanzee Politics was acclaimed not only by primatologists for its scientific achievement but also by a much broader audience of politicians, business leaders, and social psychologists for its remarkable insights into very basic human needs and behaviors. In this revised edition -- featuring a new gallery of color photographs along with a new introduction and epilogue -- de Waal expands and updates his story of the Arnhem colony and its continuing political upheavals. We learn the fate of many memorable chimpanzees and meet the colony's current leaders and their allies. The new edition remains a detailed and thoroughly engrossing account -- of sexual rivalries and coalitions, of actions governed by intelligence rather than instinct -- and it reaffirms the complex bond between humans and their closest living relatives. As we watch the chimpanzees of Arnhem behave in ways we recognize from Machiavelli (and from the nightly news), de Waal reminds us again that the roots of politics are older than humanity.

An account of daily life in a community of chimpanzees that reveals sexual rivalries and complex political strategies.

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Editorial Reviews

Adrienne Zihlman
When I first read this book, I was in Dar es Salaam with Jane Goodall. I had just returned from observing chimpanzees for two weeks at Gombe. After the real life experience, I expected a book about chimpanzee behavior and at a zoo, at that to make rather dull reading. But I was in for a surprise. De Waal's Chimpanzee Politics is as much fun as a tree full of wild chimps.
—( American Journal of Primatology)
Laurence Shames
Schmoozing. Scheming. Consensus building. You won't glean these management techniques from any business text. But you can't run your company without them. Take it from the apes . . . The author demonstrates that chimps are, in the broadest sense, political.
—(Business Month)
Robert Hinde
Precise but eminently readable and indeed exciting . . . This excellent book achieves the dual goal which eludes so many writers about animal behavior it will both fascinate the non-specialist and be seen as an important contribution to science.
—(Times Literary Supplement)
Reprint. Originally published in 1982 (Harper & Row). Emphasis is on social interactions in daily life. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801838330
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/1989
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 216
  • Product dimensions: 6.16 (w) x 9.19 (h) x 0.65 (d)

Meet the Author

Frans de Waal is C. H. Candler Professor of Primate Behavior at Emory University and director of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes Regional Primate Research Center. His books include Bonobo: The Forgotten Ape, Peacemaking among Primates, and Good Natured: The Origins of Right and Wrong in Humans and Other Animals.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 3
1 Personalities 41
2 Two Power Takeovers 77
3 Restless Stability 137
4 Sexual Privileges 151
5 Social Mechanisms 175
Conclusion 205
Epilogue 211
Notes 217
Bibliography 223
Acknowledgments 229
Index 231
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Interviews & Essays

Exclusive Barnes & Author Essay

My Double Life

My first taste for popularization came in the 1970s when I worked at the Arnhem Zoo, in the Netherlands. For years, I addressed organized groups of zoo visitors, including lawyers, housewives, university students, psychotherapists, police academies, bird-watchers, and so on. There is no better sounding board for a would-be popularizer. The visitors would yawn at some of the hottest academic issues but react with recognition and fascination to basic chimpanzee psychology that I had begun to take for granted. I learned that the only way to tell my story was to bring the individual chimpanzees to life and pay attention to actual events rather than the abstractions that scientists are so fond of.

Writing popular science books is both a pleasure and an obligation. It is a pleasure, because one writes under fewer constraints than in scientific articles that leave no room for an anecdote here and a speculation there. Peer-reviewed journal articles aren't always fun to produce.

There is a need for popularization. This is where the obligation comes in: Someone needs to explain to the larger audience what the field is all about. This may be hard for some disciplines, such as chemistry or mathematics, but if one works with monkeys and apes, as I do, it is a thankful, easy task. Like us, these animals live in soap operas of family affairs and power politics, so that all one needs to do is dig into their personal lives while attaching whatever scientific messages one wishes to discuss. People relate very easily to primate behavior and do so for the right reasons: The similarities with their own experiences are striking and fundamental.

And so, I began to lead a double life early on in my career. On the one hand, I am now a university professor and scientist who needs to write papers and obtain grants. At the same time, I am a popularizer who tries to see the bigger picture. Initially, I mainly communicated about my own work -- such as in Chimpanzee Politics and Peacemaking Among Primates -- but more and more my writings cover the work of others. My later books, such as Bonobo, Good Natured, and my most recent book, The Ape and the Sushi Master, are good examples: My own studies constitute only a fraction of what is going on in the field of primatology.

My mission in The Ape and the Sushi Master is to abolish the traditional Western dualisms between human and animal, body and mind, and especially culture and nature. I don't know why I am so fundamentally opposed to these dualisms -- many other scientists fervently embrace them. It must have something to do with how close or distant one thinks one is to animals. At the very least -- even if I won't convince everyone -- I hope to make my readers reflect on where these attitudes come from: how they are tied to human self-perception shaped by culture and religion.

--Frans de Waal

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