Review Of "Peacemaking Among Primates" By F. De Waal

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DeWaal has written an answer to Konrad Lorenz's well-known book On Agression (CH, Dec '66). The "peacemakers" are macaques, chimpanzees, and humans who show complex, largely cognitive behaviors that counteract aggression. The descriptions of primate behavior are gripping--easily readable but largely anecdotal with minimal references to sources and little or no supporting data. The extension of these anecdotal observations to human behavior is highly controversial. The book is an important contribution to primate literature and to sociobiology. It is easily accessible, using nontechnical language and is illustrated with numerous photographs. There is a modest bibliography. Libraries considering purchase should balance the book with more objective works such as A. Jolly's The Evolution of Primate Behavior (2nd ed., 1985). Readers expecting to find reports of bucolic primate life will be shocked by the gory reports of primate aggressive behavior. The book contains many explicit descriptions and photographs of violence and of sexual-erotic behavior, often with specific reference to similar human behaviors. On Agression not only brought Lorenz to the best seller list but ruined his reputation as a scientist; the same may be true of ThePeacemakers for DeWaal.


This work is freely available courtesy of Choice Reviews. The review has been reproduced in full in the abstract field.

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