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Wonderful book in its day19 Sept. 2009
Steven A. Peterson
- Published on Amazon.com
I used the first edition of this volume once upon a time (many years ago) as one of my textbooks in a course on primate behavior that I taught (a political scientist teaching primate behavior?). It was enjoyable to students, served its purpose well in presentation a lot of information to the class in a readable style. The second edition was a very well done update.
One nice touch: the volume begins with an extended quotation on apes from Hildegard of Bingen (about 1150). From there. The organization of the volume is pretty standard, with chapter after chapter considering key issues of primate behavior. Part One is labeled "Ecology." Here, we are introduced to the variety of primate species, to ecological considerations (including reproduction strategies), food and feeding, predation (and disease and death), ranging, and group size and structure, in groups versus out groups, and relations with other species). This part of the book is a building block on which subsequent chapters develop.
Part Two focuses on primate societies. Subjects covered include: genes and society, communication, demography, competition, sex, mothers and infants, and how the young "grow up" within their primate society. All chapters reflected state of the art research at the time of publication (one reason I liked Jolly's work so much).
Finally, primate intelligence. Here, Jolly considers "primate psychology," tool use, cognition, play, "language," and social learning.
By the time one finished reading this volume, one had a pretty good sense of what we knew about primate behavior at the time. And, indeed, the book does not hold up too badly, given that this edition is now over twenty years old.