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This fascinating collection of essays exposes us as the animals that we are while explaining behaviours that are deeply and recognizably human. The first section, 'Our Genes and Who We Are', focuses on our genetic endowment and the forces it creates in our lives, such as our need to seek out beauty. Another essay explains the invisible genetic warfare that takes place between men and women as they conceive a baby, which continues as the foetus develops. The second part of the book, 'Our Bodies and Who ...
"I had never planned to become a savanna baboon when I grew up; instead, I had always assumed I would become a mountain gorilla," writes Robert Sapolsky in this witty and riveting chronicle of a scientist's coming-of-age in remote Africa. An exhilarating account of Sapolsky's twenty-one-year study of a troop of rambunctious baboons in Kenya, A Primate's Memoir interweaves serious scientific observations with wry commentary about the challenges and pleasures of living in the wilds of the Serengeti -- for man and beast alike. Over two decades, Sapolsky survives culinary atrocities, gunpoint encounters, and a surreal kidnapping, while witnessing the encroachment of the tourist mentality on the farthest vestiges of unspoiled Africa. As he conducts unprecedented physiological research on wild primates, he becomes evermore enamored of his subjects -- unique and compelling characters in their own right -- and he returns to them summer after summer, until tragedy finally prevents him. By turns hilarious and poignant, A Primate's Memoir is a magnum opus from one of our foremost science writers.
In The Trouble with Testosterone, Robert M. Sapolsky draws from his career as a behavioral biologist to interpret the peculiar drives and intrinsic needs of that most exotic species - Homo sapiens. With candor, humor, and lush observations, these essays marry cutting-edge science with a rich and compassionate humanity. Sapolsky's book ranges broadly over the web of life, studying its details and plotting its themes. "Curious George's Pharmacy" examines recent exciting claims that wild primates know how to medicate themselves with forest plants. "Junk Food Monkeys" relates the adventures of a troop of baboons who stumble onto a tourist garbage dump. "Poverty's Remains" claims that science is as riddled with metaphors as a Shakespearean sonnet. "Measures of Life" begins as a witty analysis of firing squads and concludes as a dazzling meditation on the roles and responsibilities of scientists. And in the final essay, the brilliant and penetrating "Circling the Blanket for God," Sapolsky shows that science and religion emanate from the same place: the human brain. These pieces, then, reveal the contradictions that confront those who describe the world objectively, those who try to reconcile the truths of the mind with the burdens of the heart.
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