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The Naked Ape: A Zoologist's Study of the Human Animal [Paperback]

Desmond Morris
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
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Book Description

6 Oct 2005

Here is the Naked Ape at his most primal - in love, at work, at war. Meet man as he really is: relative to the apes, stripped of his veneer as we see him courting, making love, sleeping, socialising, grooming, playing.

Zoologist Desmond Morris's classic takes its place alongside Darwin's Origin of the Species, presenting man not as a fallen angel, but as a risen ape, remarkable in his resilience, energy and imagination, yet an animal nonetheless, in danger of forgetting his origins.

With its penetrating insights on man's beginnings, sex life, habits and our astonishing bonds to the animal kingdom, The Naked Ape is a landmark, at once provocative, compelling and timeless.

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The Naked Ape: A Zoologist's Study of the Human Animal + Peoplewatching: The Desmond Morris Guide to Body Language + The Human Zoo
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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (6 Oct 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099482010
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099482017
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 18,009 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Stimulating" (Arthur Koestler)

"Thought-provoking...Morris has introduced some novel and challenging ideas" (Natural History)

"Fascinating" (Sunday Times)

Book Description

'Original, provocative and brilliantly entertaining. It's the sort of book that changes people's lives' Sunday Times

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book about the human condition. 18 Feb 2001
A truly enlightening account of the human condition. Using a scientific approach, refering to Darwinian theory, Desmond Morris explains many of the physiological and phsychological characteristics of human beings. This book seems to hit the nail on the head and although written over 30 years ago, still makes perfect sense.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading - critically 26 Sep 2009
I generally liked this book and I definitely recommend it for its view of humans as just another species. However, in my view it has two weaknesses.

Firstly, the author has a tendency to descend to political and social commentary, which tends to come across as a bit dated at times. In some cases it feels more like a view into the culture of 1967 than any profound insight into human nature. For example, he asserts that the "psychological damage" done to our territorial nature by "rows of uniformly repeated, identical houses" is "incalculable" - surely a social comment, not a scientific view. Nuclear war and population growth are mentioned more than once as real concerns - again, his analysis is a reflection of the time and place that the book was written. (He may well be right about his theories of course, and probably is in many places - it's just quite subjective).

Secondly, quite a lot of the book reads like a "just so" story. <Just So Stories (Wordsworth's Children's Classics)>. E.g. when discussing how humans feed, he describes how we like a few well-spaced meals rather than continual grazing. This is held as an example of our carnivorous ancestry. On the next page however, he describes how we do sometimes eat (sweet) inter-meal snacks. This doesn't present any problems though: hey presto! in this case we do it because of our primate ancestry. If you follow the same line of reasoning, you could conclude that we like sunbathing because of our reptile ancestry.

The chapter on animals seems the worst in this respect, sometimes almost laughably so.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The benchmark for popular anthropology 7 April 2003
The Naked Ape covers a vast amount of natural science and psychology yet still remains compelling to read. Morris really hits the nail on the head even 30 years later. This study, the first popular one studying the human as an animal species shows us in a completely new light. You certainly never look at mankind in the same light again; so much of our seemingly bizarre behaviour is explained here.
Although I would recommend Morris' The Human Zoo over this book as it is more thorough, the Naked Ape is a great introduction to anthropology.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Will change the way you look at life 14 July 2009
This truly is a modern classic, a sort of Origin Of Species for the 20th century.
Written in an informative, accessible and lucid style, it is packed full of information about us naked apes, about why we do the things we do, from stroking a dog, to whispering sweet nothings to a lover, to liking chimps but not snakes.
Written in 1967, it is refreshingly free of fashionable political correctness, a creed that all too often hides the truth. When Morris tells us why teenage girls love horses, for example, he does unencumbered by PC spin. He is interested in scientific facts.
I also liked his dismissal of the 'absurd' notion of an afterlife and religious beliefs. He is a man of reason and science, and he must be read. This book really will change your whole outlook on the human species.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly entertaining insight 4 Oct 2000
By A Customer
This book is vital for anyone who's ever wondered about modern man and our absurd behaviour. It is NOT a science book so don't be frightened of it - it's an often hilarious description of how we got ourselves into this awful mess (living in big cities, having wars and so on) with some really insightful and authoritative thinking thrown in. Unless you're an extreme creationist or an axe-grinding geneticist, you will love this book, whoever you are.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Morris is cool again! 8 Dec 2004
If any of you kids out there hadnt noticed, in the network premier of 'Bring it on' an american cheerleading film, the token intelligent/quirky guy is reading 'The Naked Ape' by Desmond Morris, and for those of you who have read that book, i heartily recommned this one. A continuation if you will, of many themes in his flagship book, it makes you question things you hadnt even noticed and you will undoubtably have several moments of 'of course, why didnt i think of that?'. Elaine Morgan is also a good read (Aquatic Ape Hypothesis) I read both while doing my psychology degree, and while they are written to be accessaable to everyone, they still have many good ideas, and written better, i might add, than many technical books which often have confusing jargon for the most simple of things.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an impulse buy, and one I couldn't put down 12 May 2000
By A Customer
Heartily recommended for anyone interested in behaviour (compulsive peoplewatchers included). Neither pitching too high or too low, Desmond Morris manages to intrgue and inform effortlessly. Only one warning; may make those inclined to analyse the behaviour of themselves and others think twice!
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Every sentance contains so much to think about. One chapter may take some time to fully appreciate. Psychology, sociology and physiology are all covered in magnificent detail. You may never look upon other people in the same way again. You will find that the chapter on sex is a brilliant insight. Well worth investing your time in.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting
I first read this book in the 60's when I was a teenager. I found it fascinating and in fact this book sparked in me what was to be a lifelong interest in Anthropology. Read more
Published 1 month ago by cg
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant work of forward thinking.
Every night at bedtime was my time with the Naked Ape, and sometimes I found the time slipping away into the small hours. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars The Naked Ape
This book opens your eyes to just the type of animal we (humans) are. It make you think out of the box.
Published 7 months ago by james wootton
1.0 out of 5 stars Viral Morality
Morris makes a great song and dance about the 'outrage' with which his book was first received. Why are people so resistant to contemplating, in the cool light of scientific... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Ms R. Bleasdale
4.0 out of 5 stars Cities and Zoos
In this book, Desmond Morris continues his look at humans from a zoologist's point of view. This time he looks at how the naked ape responds to the complex situation they have... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Rod Matthews
4.0 out of 5 stars An oldie but a goodie
There are close to 200 species of apes. All are covered with hair except one, the naked ape, self-named Homo sapiens. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Rod Matthews
3.0 out of 5 stars Okay
The book arrived promptly. The quality was much as expected for a book of this age. It looks dated but the info is fascinating.
Published 12 months ago by landie_lover
5.0 out of 5 stars deamond morris
more people should read this, as it explains much much more of today's behaviour reminding them, that they are a member of the animal kingdom.NOT a super animal breed. Read more
Published 13 months ago by N.C.Kingston-Davies
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book
The naked ape is a book written in the 70's and I'm sure it raised a few eyebrows when it came out. I learnt alot from the book, its main strength I think is that it gives a view... Read more
Published 15 months ago by barrybaker
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
This book is a little dated now but still an interesting read. Easy to read and understandable, even for a non academic like myself.
Published 17 months ago by Suzanne Ross
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