Cover Image: Chimpanzee Memoirs

Chimpanzee Memoirs

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Member Reviews

This is a book of collected essays from some of the world's leading primatologists—including Jane Goodall and Frans de Waal, as well as native African scientists—on their experiences studying chimpanzees and bonobos. It's at once very human but also cognizant and respectful of the similarities and differences between us and our nearest surviving relatives. There's a sense of wonder and compassion, but also urgency as environmental pressures threaten the existence of wild apes. We've learned so much, but there's still so much more to learn.

This book is written for lay people, but it's also geared toward students who might be considering a career in primatology. If you're interested in zoology or conservation, this book is for you.

Thanks, NetGalley, for the ARC I received. This is my honest and voluntary review.
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Chimpanzee Memoirs: Stories of Studying and Saving Our Closest Living Relatives was edited by Stephen Ross and Lydia Hopper. It is currently scheduled for release on May 10 2022. Chimpanzees fascinate people for many reasons. Our awareness of our closest living relatives testifies to the efforts of the remarkable people who study these creatures and work to protect them. What motivates someone to dedicate their lives to chimpanzees? How does that reflect on our own species? This book brings together a range of chimpanzee experts who tell powerful personal stories about their lives and careers. It features some of the world’s preeminent primatologists—including Jane Goodall and Frans de Waal—as well as representatives of a new generation from varied backgrounds. The book features anthropologists, biologists, psychologists, veterinarians, conservationists, and the director of a chimpanzee sanctuary. Some grew up in the English countryside, others in villages in Congo; some first encountered chimpanzees in a zoo, others in the forests surrounding their homes. All are united by a common purpose: to study and understand chimpanzees in order to protect them in the wild and care for them in zoos and sanctuaries. Contributors share what inspired them, what shaped their career choices, and what motivates them to strive for solutions to the many challenges that chimpanzees face today.

I thought that Chimpanzee Memoirs is a well organized collection of essays that are accessible and interesting to read. I liked that the experts were from a wide range of backgrounds, fields, and reasons being motivated to work with chimpanzees. The essays are each short, making this a quick read, but full of personal stories and tales of specific champs that stuck a chord with the experts. I liked that while some of the experts included are well known and fully expected to be included, readers also get to learn about people in the field that we most likely have never heard of.  I think this book is an engaging and encouraging read, that also covers the struggles of the researchers and the threats to chimpanzees (past and present), so does not sugar coat the subject matter. This would be a great book for school and public libraries to have in their collection. It could be great inspiration for readers that have interest in studying chimps, or other animals.
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A must read for any fans of the Ologies Podcast!

*Thank you Netgalley for allowing me to read this in exchange for my own review*

This was a really quick and entertaining read, it was a collection of essays that were easily accessible for the non primate informed (me). 

Each expert seemed carefully selected to be engaging, passionate and quite in love with their job itself. I recommend the read for any animal lovers. It's very similar to the Ologies podcast, it takes an intimidating subject and breaks it down into relatable and bite sized pieces - I didn't realise I was learning till I started sprouting facts. 

I particularly love that some of the essayist's would tell stories of particular primates and then provide images/anecdotes. I highly recommend!
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When I read books about animals, I want it to be about them and I’m not usually interested in the ugliest ape, but the humans featured here are so remarkable, that I found the essays fascinating. I knew Jane Goodall and Frans de Waal (who doesn’t), but it was great meeting new people involved in the study and conservation of chimpanzees. From veterinarians to research assistants, these stories show the distinct perspectives from which people approach these wonderful creatures. No one shies from the tedious and boring part of the job, but their enthusiasm is impossible to miss. They all choose a favorite amongst the chimps they’ve known (sometimes more than one), and there are gorgeous portraits of them. Here are stories from people you usually don’t hear from. Natives from the areas where the studies are conducted. I was surprised at how much one of the memoirs resonated with my own personal position on the matter, considering the author and I have such different backgrounds. There is great advice for budding primatologists, so this would be a great gift for younger readers. Enjoyable, full of wonderful experiences and data about our closest relatives. 
I chose to read this book and all opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased. Thank you, #NetGalley/#Columbia University Press!
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This book has essays from primatologists and others involved with Chimpanzees. In many ways, this is intended as a tribute to people who chose a field where very few venture, largely for their love of animals. This book has a loveable bunch of essays which are heart-warming.

While I knew of Jane Goodall and Frans de Waal who find space in this book, there are many other people whose accounts are informative and inspiring. There are experiences from many decades in the past when animals were treated as objects and it was considered absurd to mention animal intelligence or emotions. Over time, while the research has come a long way (with a lot still to be done), the challenges of habitat loss and poaching/meat trade continues to be severely challenging for the long-term survival of chimpanzees & also other animals.

As this is a compilation of essays, there are some common themes which tend to repeat, especially around the challenges mentioned above. The personal accounts make for wonderful reading. As they all point out, anyone who has spent time with animals, especially primates, know that they are far closer to us, than we like to accept. Thankfully, many countries have stopped invasive chimp testing and are re-habilitating them (such as Chimp Haven in the US). All the experiences, on how each of the author’s worked to overcome the distrust and got to observe & interact with chimps make for interesting reading. It is believed that human male aggression (after all, we have had a tendency to violence & even war since long) derives from chimps. Similar to humans, they also have the ability to negotiate, moderate and reconcile among themselves. In contrast apparently, Bonobos are a peace loving, non-violent species with not a single recorded instance of any killing within the species.

A fairly small, well-intentioned & warm-hearted compilation. The essays are quite short though and could have been more detailed.
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As someone who has followed Jane Goodall and cares about every animal, especially primates, this book was a wonderful read.  The contributors had such heartwarming, educational stories.  They are such close relatives of ours, it's difficult to think of them as animals.  I loved this book, and I highly recommend it.  Thank you to NetGalley and Columbia Unversity Press for an e-ARC of this title in exchange for my honest review.
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This is a heart-warming read for anyone interested in chimpanzees, conservation and/or primate research.

I've read a few books by primatologists and ethologists in the past, and just read one of Jane Goodall's a few weeks ago. The content in 'Chimpanzee Memoirs' still felt fresh and new, though - pretty much every contributor had a great anecdote or two to share. I also loved that each person dwelled on a specific chimpanzee who they hadn't been able to forget - and the portraits of those chimpanzees that interspersed the text were a lovely touch.

It did seem that each contributor was adhering closely to a structural template given to them by the book's editors, which gave it a slightly formulaic feel. I also wish there'd been more opportunity to spend time with each contributor - but I appreciate that this might have meant featuring less people overall. 'Chimpanzee Memoirs' provides a whistle stop tour of chimpanzee research, along with plenty of advice thrown in for people wanting to become involved in primate research or conservation. It's certainly a worthy addition to my bookshelf!

(With thanks to NetGalley and Columbia University Press for this ebook in exchange for an honest review)
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