Cover image for My family album : thirty years of primate photography
My family album : thirty years of primate photography
Waal, F. B. M. de (Frans B. M.), 1948-
Publication Information:
Berkeley : University of California Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
169 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
TR729.P74 W33 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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For more than three decades Frans de Waal, the author of best-sellers such as Chimpanzee Politics and Bonobo: The Forgotten Ape, has studied monkeys and apes in zoos, research parks, and field settings. Photographing his subjects over the years, de Waal has compiled a unique family album of our closest animal relatives. To capture the social life of primates, and their natural communication, requires intimate knowledge, which is abundantly present here, in the work of one of the world's foremost primatologists. Culled from the thousands of images de Waal has taken, these photographs capture social interaction in bonobos, chimpanzees, capuchin monkeys, baboons, and macaques showing the subtle gestures, expressions, and movements that elude most nature photographers or casual observers.

De Waal supplies extended captions discussing each photograph, offering descriptions that range from personal observations and impressions to professional interpretation. The result is a view of our primate family that is both intensely moving and personal, also richly evocative of all that science can tell us of primate society. In his introduction, de Waal elaborates on his work, his mission in this volume, and the particular challenges of animal action photography.

Author Notes

Frans de Waal is C. H. Candler Professor of Psychology at Emory University and Director of the Living Links Center for the Advanced Study of Ape and Human Evolution at the Yerkes Primate Center in Atlanta. His many books include The Ape and the Sushi Master: Cultural Reflections by a Primatologist (2001), Good Natured: The Origins of Right and Wrong in Humans and Other Animals (1996), and Bonobo: The Forgotten Ape (California, 1997).

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

The primatologist whose work has helped revolutionize ideas about culture and human kinship to the apes is a man of feeling, and he calls his pick of the thousands of photographs he has taken of the objects of his study a family album. After all, he has known some of the apes seen in it for three decades, longer than many get to know their children. Not that he ever mistakes these bonobos, chimpanzees, macaques, and baboons for children. Rather, as his Chimpanzee Politics (1982), Peacemaking among Primates (1989), Bonobo (1998), and The Ape and the Sushi Master (2001) carefully testify, he so indisputably descries personality, emotionality, cogitation, sociability, and other "human" qualities in these animals that he must respect, appreciate, and, yes, love them. To page through this gallery of beautiful and revealing primate portraiture, guided and informed by de Waal's still very scientifically and pedagogically concerned commentary, is to learn to regard these "beasts" as knowledgably and as affectionately. --Ray Olson Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this absorbing collection of 128 duotones, primatologist Waal shares evidence he has collected over the past 30 years ton primate sociability and emotional intelligence. Rather than harp on the tired theme, "they're more like us than you think," Waal instead offers warmly personal explanations of the impressive diversity of behavior among primate species, including chimpanzees, baboons, macaques, capuchin monkeys and bonobos. Humor and personality are counterbalanced by deftly inserted scientific concepts and theories, and Waal's expressive photos draw viewers into the "soap opera" of the primates' lives. A chimpanzee angrily demanding his food back from a thief is contrasted with a macaque monkey meekly allowing a higher-ranking female to remove stored food from his mouth. "If we consider a range of dominance `styles,' from egalitarian to despotic, rhesus monkeys are clearly at the latter end of the spectrum," says Waal. In contrast, bonobos, pictured in a range of unforgettable activities, including French-kissing, copulating missionary style and spinning on a rope until getting dizzy, are "the hippies of the primate world." While the printing is disappointingly dim and poorly contrasted, this book crosses the species barrier with grace. (Oct. 16) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

A prominent primatologist, de Waal (The Ape and the Sushi Master) is also a talented wildlife photographer. In this collection of more than 125 black-and-white pictures, he aims to help readers gain a richer perception of the social interaction of wild and zoo-dwelling primates than can be gained from zoo visits or even watching films. The expressions and interactions of chimpanzees, bonobos, baboons, macaques, and other monkeys and apes are usually so fleeting that uninformed observers may not realize what they are doing. Some of the photographs are portraits of quiet, even pensive animals, while others illustrate gestures, sexual activity, nurturing, grooming, fighting, problem solving, and more. Brief essays accompany each one or two photographs, touching on topics like the difference between chimps and bonobos, the meaning of unusual expressions or behaviors, the importance of grooming, dominance behaviors, and so on. Recommended for natural history collections in most public and college libraries.-Beth Clewis Crim, Prince William P.L., VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

De Waal, the well-known comparative psychologist of primate behavior, has reached back three decades into his snapshots and culled a number of grainy black-and-white photographs of captive primates to produce a coffee-table book. Opposite the various photos there are usually one or two paragraphs with a variety of titles to facilitate understanding across certain concepts. But the author is really pushing a popularized message. Here are a few of these "concept headings": "Cries of the Deaf," "Origin of the Smile," "Waving the White Flag," "Confrontational Stare," "Tickle Me Chimp," "Funny Faces," "Reaching Out," "Empathy," "Sisterhood," "Family Reunion," "Big Man Illusion," "United We Stand," "The Gentlemen," and the list of these superficial explanatory comments opposite the photos goes on. It is difficult to make sense of the book except that it was written primarily for profit, as there are multitudes of readers who are justifiably fascinated with primate behavior. As usual, de Waal's perspective is limited without any evolutionary explanations for some of the most interesting manifestations of primate form, function, and behavior. A book only for the most avid among the general public who collect popular primatologia. ^BSumming Up: Optional. General readers. F. S. Szalay University of New Mexico

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