A Primate's Memoir - Robert M. Sapolsky

A Primate's Memoir

By Robert M. Sapolsky

  • Release Date: 2007-11-01
  • Genre: Nature
Score: 4.5
From 52 Ratings


In the tradition of Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey, Robert Sapolsky, a foremost science writer and recipient of a MacArthur Genius Grant, tells the mesmerizing story of his twenty-one years in remote Kenya with a troop of Savannah baboons.

“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 evermore 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.


  • Kafka's African Memoir

    By Klish2021
    Sapolsky's youthful adventures in Africa comprise a medley of stories reminiscent of the absurdity of Kafka and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The memoir provides a compelling glimpse into Africa at an striking historical instant. Pleasantly surprising, witty and poignant A Primate's Memoir is the best memoir I have ever read.
  • The best book

    By Joy Day
    I have read in a very long time. Hilarious and touching.
  • Luv Baboons

    By Mtnbikeer
    Poignant, personal, infuriating, touching, and hilarious. Sapolsky, in the conversational style of a campfire storyteller, gives readers an unvarnished look at the beauty and simple majesty of baboons alongside the scandalous, sometimes funny, sometimes deadly corruption of humans. Readers will fall in love with the dysfunctional family of baboons, inevitably finding parallels in their own community of friends and family, and marvel at Sapolsky's courage and foolishness as he inserts himself in the most adventurous, dangerous political situations in unstable Africa.