• A Primate's Memoir

  • A Neuroscientist’s Unconventional Life Among the Baboons
  • By: Robert M. Sapolsky
  • Narrated by: Mike Chamberlain
  • Length: 14 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 10-12-2013
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio
  • 5 out of 5 stars 4.9 (10 ratings)

Publisher's Summary

"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 ever more 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.
©2001 Robert M. Sapolsky (P)2013 Tantor
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Critic Reviews

"Filled with cynicism and awe, passion and humor, this memoir is both an absorbing account of a young man's growing maturity and a tribute to the continent that, despite its troubles and extremes, held him in its thrall." ( Publishers Weekly, Starred Review)
"Mike Chamberlain narrates this work by primatologist Robert M. Sapolsky, who went to Kenya to study baboons. Chamberlain's lively, bemused tone communicates Sapolsky's down-to-earth approach and sense of humor. Sapolsky's writing is eminently approachable for the layperson, and the listener soon begins to feel acquainted with the various baboons in the troop and to see certain similarities between their behavior and those of the human world. Through the amusing moments and the trials and tribulations, Chamberlain's energetic narration provides a great complement to the author's quirky personality." ( AudioFile)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Amazon Customer on 02-07-2018

Insightful, moving, and more than a little funny

This book is the third of Robert's I have had the pleasure of reading, or listening to. His writing style is virtually indentical to his regular speaking pattern, and the manner in which he lectures (side note: go to the Stanford YouTube channel and watch his series on Human Behavioural Biology, if you're even slightly interested in the minute amount of biology he discusses in this book. You can thank me later.).

It's easy to follow, and each of the chapters appear as an almost self-contained story, with casual links back to those previous. It would be an understatement to say that Robert's work has changed my life, because, insofar as it has, I truly have loved every minute of it. He comes across as a brilliant, hilarious storyteller, and could have just as easily made a career in standup, as he has an academic. His memoir is almost like being shepherded along an old, familiar path that you've actually never been down, by an old uni friend you lost contact with as you got busy with other things, whose suddenly shown up with a majestically gruff beard.

Truly an absolute gem of a book, written by absolute gem of a man.

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5 out of 5 stars
By Anonymous User on 25-06-2018

Humans and our Baboony Behaviour - alt book tite?

The title alone led me to think that the book will be mostly about the famous Roberts S. research into baboons, however that's just a third of the book. Through the other 2/3rds Robert describes the most unusual adventures experienced by and from a white skinned man's perspective in a developing and quite isolated culture. It sounds like Robert made an exquisite job at describing the culture clash that happens at each encounter he makes.

As he describes his quite remarkable encounters in a very colorful, accurate and yet funny manner, you are compelled to pause & reflect on the baboon troop Robert studies: we don't behave that much differently from Roberts baboony troop at all.

Make no mistake, this book is not solely about primatology and our hairy cousins, it's about Baboony Behaviour that we humans share with them.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Jan on 06-07-2015

One of the best books I've ever read.

I admit I went in biased having watched all his youtube lectures and read his other books, but this book was so satisfying as a narrative and so beautifully written, I'm having trouble recalling when I've ever enjoyed a book so much. "To Kill a Mockingbird" comes to mind as a perfect piece of literature. This book is so close, I'll probably think of it as my second all time favourite from now on. The only thing that would have made it better for me would be to have it read by Sapolsky. But the narration was good anyway.

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48 of 51 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Robin A. Gower on 05-03-2015

Compelling, humane, intelligent

This book, part memoir, part science, part philosophy, touched me deeply and taught me much about the tragicomedy of primate lives.

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37 of 41 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Gabriel Jianu on 07-06-2017

Great book

Very intresting and often times funny. The reader does a fairly good job as well.

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5 out of 5 stars
By Amazon Customer on 06-03-2017

Beautiful story well told

A mix of science, wildlife, travel and just plain humour. A really enjoyable listen from a very engaging author. Highly recommend

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