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Almost Human: A Journey into the World of Baboons
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Almost Human: A Journey into the World of Baboons

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  62 ratings  ·  7 reviews
In 1972, a young graduate student named Shirley Strum traveled to Kenya to study a troop of olive baboons (Papio anubis) nicknamed the Pumphouse Gang. Like our own ancestors, baboons had adapted to life on the African savannah, and Strum hoped that by observing baboon behavior, she could learn something about how early humans might have lived. Soon the baboons had won her ...more
Paperback, 323 pages
Published September 15th 2001 by University Of Chicago Press (first published October 12th 1987)
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A bit dry and academic in places, but still a fascinating insight into the social world of the Pumphouse Gang, baboon behaviour in general, the reaction of Strum’s family to her choice of career, and the internal politics of working in the field of primatology.


“It was my first close look at wild animals, and they nearly stepped over us. Gracefully tall, dancelike in the rhythm of their stride, with soft hairy mouths, doelike eyes and fuzzy, stumpy horns, they were an unbelieva
I just spent a lot of time on a review of this book and it all got deleted- THANKS GOODREADS! I admire Dr. Strum and her work. It was interesting to see how anthropology/primatology has changed in the last 30 years or so (and how it hasn't). It's a little heavy on details about the baboons' lives without really establishing an emotional connection to the animals for the reader. But overall, good book!
Steven Peterson
Accessible and well written work on baboon society and the lessons that can be learned therefrom. Strum studies The Pumphouse Gang, a troop of baboons, over time. This book summarizes lessons that she learned about these animals. Her work showed more nuances in the behavior of baboons than earlier works.

All in all, a literate and insightful work on our primate relatives.
Aug 15, 2007 Daniel rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
I've quoted Shirley. She taught me something important. The so called university experts who studied baboons did so in zoos. Shirley found the free baboons made baboons out of the experts. The baboons that were free behaved entirely different from what the universities were saying.
i loved this book. it was a very personal journey of discovery and a correlation between how baboons and humans are similar in their strategy for finding acceptance in the group.
An anthropologist’s story of her baboon research, what she learned about baboon society, and how her group found a new home for the baboon colony. Fascinating stuff.
My favorite book on primate study.
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