Silent Partners: The Legacy of the Ape Language Experiments

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Ten years ago, their names were familiar: Washoe, Lucy, Nim, Ally and Koko, four chimpanzees and a gorilla who were successfully trained in sign language. Today they have vanished from the spotlight, as has that entire area of primate research. Linden (Apes, Men and Language has followed the language experiments from their early stages, and here tells the engrossing and disturbing story of the personal conflicts and academic infighting that spelled disaster for both humans and apes. When grant money ceased to flow to the Institute of Primate Studies in Norman, Okla., the chimps had to go. Some of the pampered celebrities were shipped off to medical labs (public outcry removed Nim and Ally from the labs to game parks); Lucy was reintroduced to the wilds of Africa (Janis Carter's work with Lucy in Gambia is worth a separate book); Washoe and Koko remain with their dedicated owners. Many behavioral scientists question the objectivity of the experimental data. Linden explores the ethical problems of animal research with special emphasis on humans' next of kin. First serial to the Atlantic. (April 30)
Library Journal
Among the celebrities of the 1970s were a group of chimpanzees who learned sign language. Linden, author of Apes, Men, and Language, (Penguin, 1981) has followed the declining fortunes of Nim, Lucy, Washoe, et al. since the abandonment of the original language studies. Once our language-using ``brethren,'' the chimps are now a growing surplus, a nuisance occasional ly arousing guilt. Personality clashes and consequent funding cuts have caused a dispersal of the chimpsto laboratories, to zoo-like facilities, and even to Africa for an improbable ``reha bilitation.'' Linden censures key partic ipants in the original studies and raises serious moral questions about our am biguous and fickle relationship with these primates, some of whom are be ing used in AIDS studies. His disturb ing report will be controversial. Lau rie Bartolini, formerly with Lincoln Lib., Springfield, Ill.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812912395
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/1/1986
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Pages: 288

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