ALMOST HUMAN by Shirley C. Strum


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A Journey Into the World of Baboons. In 1972, when graduate student Strum set off to do doctoral research on baboons (one of the few primates to have adapted to savannah life, baboons are often studied for clues to early human behavior), she did not anticipate that her findings would help to completely shatter previously held conceptions about both baboon and early human societies. Strum, whose research in Kenya has stretched over a decade--with time divided between field work (primarily studying a baboon troop called ""the Pumphouse Gang"") and teaching at the U. of California--takes us on a journey of anthropological, philosophical, humanistic, and purely aesthetic magnitudes. Following the troop daily after gaining their trust, Strum is able to make keen, firsthand observations. And her most significant finding--namely, that baboons are intelligent animals whose society is based on sophisticated social strategies and friendships (rather than purely on male aggression and dominance, as had been previously believed)--was ultimately to shake up the scientific community, and alter notions about the nature of man. With the rapid encroachment of agriculture on the animals' territory, and the resultant habitat destruction for the baboons and crop destruction for the farmers, Strum is thrust headlong into sociological and political issues. With the help of longtime friend, conservationist Jonah Western (whom she ultimately falls in love with and marries), she is instrumental in relocating--and saving--three troops of monkeys, including the Pumphouse Gang. An inspiring scientific and personal exploration of a previously misunderstood primate group.

Pub Date: Nov. 9th, 1987
ISBN: 0393307085
Publisher: Random House