Peacemaking Among Primates / Edition 1

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Overview

Does biology condemn the human species to violence and war? Previous studies of animal behavior incline us to answer yes, but the message of this book is considerably more optimistic. Without denying our heritage of aggressive behavior, Frans de Waal describes powerful checks and balances in the makeup of our closest animal relatives, and in so doing he shows that to humans making peace is as natural as making war.

In this meticulously researched and absorbing account, we learn in detail how different types of simians cope with aggression, and how they make peace after fights. Chimpanzees, for instance, reconcile with a hug and a kiss, whereas rhesus monkeys groom the fur of former adversaries. By objectively examining the dynamics of primate social interactions, de Waal makes a convincing case that confrontation should not be viewed as a barrier to sociality but rather as an unavoidable element upon which social relationships can be built and strengthened through reconciliation.

The author examines five different species--chimpanzees, rhesus monkeys, stump-tailed monkeys, bonobos, and humans--and relates anecdotes, culled from exhaustive observations, that convey the intricacies and refinements of simian behavior. Each species utilizes its own unique peacemaking strategies. The bonobo, for example, is little known to science, and even less to the general public, but this rare ape maintains peace by means of sexual behavior divorced from reproductive functions; sex occurs in all possible combinations and positions whenever social tensions need to be resolved. "Make love, not war" could be the bonobo slogan.

De Waal's demonstration of reconciliation in both monkeys and apes strongly supports his thesis that forgiveness and peacemaking are widespread among nonhuman primates--an aspect of primate societies that should stimulate much needed work on human conflict resolution.

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Editorial Reviews

Natural History - Barbara Smuts
De Waal's message is simple yet profound...[He describes] in lucid and vivid prose the peacemaking strategies of four non-human primates he has studied in captivity...His analysis should prove compelling for any reader who has ever made up after a fight--in short, for anyone.
New York Times Book Review - Sarah Blaffer Hrdy
Lorenz sought to trace the origins of human aggressive impulses. Now, 20 years later, the Lorenzian mantle--considerably transformed--has slipped onto the shoulders of a young Dutch ethologist named Frans de Waal. Once again we have a keen observer who immerses himself in the social lives of other animals. Like Lorenz, de Waal is eager to let his thoughts range widely and speculatively in order to extract from comparisons of human beings with other animals take-home messages about global issues of peace and war.
Chicago Tribune - Peter Gorner
Entertaining and exhaustively researched...Among the most perceptive and provocative of ethologists, [de Waal presents] persuasive evidence that the ruthless law of the jungle does not necessarily apply to humanity's closest relatives.
Chicago Tribune

Entertaining and exhaustively researched...Among the most perceptive and provocative of ethologists, [de Waal presents] persuasive evidence that the ruthless law of the jungle does not necessarily apply to humanity's closest relatives.
— Peter Gorner

Booklist
Probably the most clearly written, consistently and infectiously readable reporting of scientific research since T. H. Huxley popularized Darwin.
Natural History

De Waal's message is simple yet profound...[He describes] in lucid and vivid prose the peacemaking strategies of four non-human primates he has studied in captivity...His analysis should prove compelling for any reader who has ever made up after a fight—in short, for anyone.
— Barbara Smuts

New York Times Book Review

Lorenz sought to trace the origins of human aggressive impulses. Now, 20 years later, the Lorenzian mantle—considerably transformed—has slipped onto the shoulders of a young Dutch ethologist named Frans de Waal. Once again we have a keen observer who immerses himself in the social lives of other animals. Like Lorenz, de Waal is eager to let his thoughts range widely and speculatively in order to extract from comparisons of human beings with other animals take-home messages about global issues of peace and war.
— Sarah Blaffer Hrdy

Science Books and Films
The best book published on the nature of conflict since Lorenz's On Aggression.
Chicago Tribune
Entertaining and exhaustively researched...Among the most perceptive and provocative of ethologists, [de Waal presents] persuasive evidence that the ruthless law of the jungle does not necessarily apply to humanity's closest relatives.
— Peter Gorner
Natural History
De Waal's message is simple yet profound...[He describes] in lucid and vivid prose the peacemaking strategies of four non-human primates he has studied in captivity...His analysis should prove compelling for any reader who has ever made up after a fight--in short, for anyone.
— Barbara Smuts
New York Times Book Review
Lorenz sought to trace the origins of human aggressive impulses. Now, 20 years later, the Lorenzian mantle--considerably transformed--has slipped onto the shoulders of a young Dutch ethologist named Frans de Waal. Once again we have a keen observer who immerses himself in the social lives of other animals. Like Lorenz, de Waal is eager to let his thoughts range widely and speculatively in order to extract from comparisons of human beings with other animals take-home messages about global issues of peace and war.
— Sarah Blaffer Hrdy
Library Journal
The author ( Chimpanzee Politics: Power and Sex Among Apes , LJ 12/15/82) here contrasts reconciliation behavior in chimpanzees, bonobos (``pygmy chimpanzees''), rhesus and stumptailed monkeys, and humans, to demonstrate the wide range of peacemaking strategies among primates. This book balances previous studies on aggression by examining the role of reconciliation in strengthening social ties. While the chapter on human peacemaking is superficial, it emphasizes the need for further research. De Waal's thesis should interest scholars in many fields, while his anecdotal approach will appeal to general readers. Recommended.-- Beth Clewis, J. Sargeant Reynolds Community Coll. Lib., Richmond
Booknews
Waal (Wisconsin Regional Primate Center) examines the ways in which aggression and reconciliation are both necessary, complementary aspects of primate social relationships; describes these aspects in chimpanzee, rhesus monkey, stumptail monkeys, bonobos monkeys; points out implications for their human relatives. Seventy-five photos. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674659216
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/1990
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 310
  • Product dimensions: 0.65 (w) x 6.14 (h) x 9.21 (d)

Meet the Author

Frans B. M. de Waal is C. H. Candler Professor of Primate Behavior in the Psychology Department and Director of Living Links, part of the Yerkes Primate Center, Emory University.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments

Prologue

1. False Dichotomies

"Good" Aggression

"Bad" Peace

The Individual and the Group

Captive vs. Field Studies

2. Chimpanzees

The Arnhem Project

Reconciliation and Consolation

Sex Differences

A Coalition Breaks

Deadly Violence

Reflections on the Dark Side

Self-Awareness and Chimpocentrism

3. Rhesus Monkeys

Matriarchs and Matrilines

The Transfer of Rank

Aggression Levels

The Exploratory Phase

Implicit Reconciliations

Hard Evidence

Class Structure

Climbing the Ladder

4. Stump-Tailed Monkeys

Our Beauties

Orgasmic Reconciliations

Two Macaques

All-Embracing Unity

5. Bonobos

The "Pygmy Chimp" Is Neither

Wild Bonobos and Wild Theories

The Smartest Ape?

The Peanut Family

Games Bonobos Play

Kama Sutra Primates

The Sex-Contract Hypothesis

Sex for Peace

Epilogue

6. Humans

The Paucity of Knowledge

Degrees of Sophistication

Conditions of Peace

Children

Cultures

The Oath of the Elbe

Conclusion

Bibliography

Index

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Interviews & Essays

Exclusive Barnes & Noble.com 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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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2001

    Intruiguing & Fun

    This book is excellent for any general reader or 'primate lover' wanting a deeper knowledge of the politics of our closest ancestors. De Waal writes with a style that leaves no student, graduate, or general reader dissapointed. This book provides a great insight into the peacemaking habits of 4 groups of primates (including us humans) and stresses the need for researchers and the public alike to aknowledge the importance of both aggression AND peacemaking skills which govern, and are governed by, the roles of individuals in primate society. A wonderful call for a re-thinking of previous theories about agression and anger completely dominating society. Fantastic photos and persoanl accounts accompany the text.

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    Posted October 9, 2009

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    Posted October 21, 2008

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