by Robert M. Sapolsky
Sapolsky decided early in life that he wanted to study primates. This book is a humorous memoir of his early experiences in the field. When he first got the the bush in East Africa, things were not quite what he had expected. A Primate's Memoir describes not only his efforts to win the trust of his study group of baboons and some of the insights he gathered from witnessing their behavior, but also how he had to learn to live in the bush and navigate a foreign culture. He discusses the ins and outs of primatology, dealings with other scientists and working with local park rangers, wildlife advocates and farmers who live adjacent to the National Park where "his" baboons live. At one point Sapolsky travels to visit the area where Diane Fossey studied gorillas, and offers some criticism about her methods. Usually when I read a book about a field scientist studying animals I find all the information about their journey, culture shock and struggles with local authorities peripheral and rather boring. But in this case it was so amusing and interesting I enjoyed that part of the story very much. Although I would have liked to know more about the baboons.
Rating: 4/5 ........ 304 pages, 2001