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Chimpanzee Politics

, 256 pages

135 b&w illus.

August 2007



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Chimpanzee Politics

Power and Sex among Apes

25th anniversary edition

The first edition of Frans de Waal's Chimpanzee Politics was acclaimed not only by primatologists for its scientific achievement but also by politicians, business leaders, and social psychologists for its remarkable insights into the most basic human needs and behaviors. Twenty-five years later, this book is considered a classic. Featuring a new preface that includes recent insights from the author, this anniversary edition is a detailed and thoroughly engrossing account of rivalries and coalitions—actions governed by intelligence rather than instinct. As we watch the chimpanzees of Arnhem behave in ways we recognize from Machiavelli (and from the nightly news), de Waal reminds us again that the roots of politics are older than humanity.

Frans de Waal is the C. H. Candler Professor of Primate Behavior at Emory University in Atlanta and the director of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes Regional Primate Research Center. His books include The Ape and the Sushi Master; Peacemaking among Primates; and Our Inner Ape.

"An excellent book... Just as fresh and thought-provoking in 2008 as it was in 1983."

"Even more enlightening than Machiavelli's The Prince, this book describes power takeovers and social organizations in a chimpanzee colony... I'll never look at academic or corporate politics the same way."

"Newt Gingrich has been an avid follower of de Waal's work for years. He has even placed de Waal's Chimpanzee Politics on his recommended reading list, along with better known texts such as the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Federalist Papers. What secrets has Gingrich gleaned from our simian cousins? In short, how to win power by forming tactical coalitions and mounting fierce psychological attacks on those blocking the way... It's a strategy Gingrich aped in his assault on former Speaker Jim Wright."

"Schmoozing. Scheming. Consensus building. You won't glean these management techniques from any business text. But you can't run your company without them. Take it from the apes... The author demonstrates that chimps are, in the broadest sense, political."

"The best book ever written on the social life of apes in captivity... The author has that special empathetic insight into the mind of the chimpanzee which is shared by few but can somehow be recognized by many."

"Precise but eminently readable and indeed exciting... This excellent book achieves the dual goal which eludes so many writers about animal behavior—it will both fascinate the nonspecialist and be seen as an important contribution to science."

"When I first read this book, I was in Dar es Salaam with Jane Goodall. I had just returned from observing chimpanzees for two weeks at Gombe. After the real-life experience, I expected a book about chimpanzee behavior—and at a zoo, at that—to make rather dull reading. But I was in for a surprise. De Waal's Chimpanzee Politics is as much fun as a tree full of wild chimps."