THE OMNIVOROUS APE by Lyall Watson

THE OMNIVOROUS APE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The idea that man's nature is that of the killer ape in whom aggression, violence and the need to kill are inherent is stated as fact in this vicious simple-minded little book It is vicious in tire degree of pleasure the author seems to take in these ideas, reminiscent of some 19th century industrialists' adoption of the phrase ""survival of the fitter"" to excuse economic exploitation. Its simplemindedness lies in its basic approach -- that all aspects of man's behavior can be explained in terms of feeding alone. Such reductionism inevitably leads to gross overstatements and highly implausible theories (that fire was not used to cook meat at first, but to restore the warmth of the dead animal at the moment of kill, for example). While the author seems knowledgeable about the eating habits of living animals, his conjectures about extract species and what happened in evolution are sloppy, inaccurate and couched in the kind of dreadful purposiveness that makes anthropologists shudder. Some analogies he makes with sexual behavior and game-playing are interesting, as are his cataloguings of food habits in recent history, although again one wonders bow much is hearsay. The fact that so much of the book is ill-documented and even self-contradictory (he states for example that early men were super-carnivores and later admits that there was never a time when man did not also eat vegetable matter -- thereby automatically making him an omnivore) are just further evidence of the one-track mind stuck in a rut dug by more skilled expositors of tire Desmond Morris school.

Pub Date: July 23rd, 1971
Publisher: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan