Chris Herzfeld


The Great Apes. A Short Story 

Chris Herzfeld

Yale University Press

New Haven & London



Foreword by Jane Goodall

Translated by Kevin Frey



"A unique, beautifully illustrated exploration of our fascination with our closest primate relatives, and the development of primatology as a discipline."


"This insightful work is a compact but wideranging survey of humankind's relationship to the great apes (chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, orangutans), from antiquity to the present. Replete with fascinating historical details and anecdotes, it traces twists and turns in our construction of primate knowledge over five hundred years. Chris Herzfeld outlines the development of primatology and its key players and events, including well-known long-term studies, notably the pionneering work by women such as Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas.

Herzfeld seeks to heighten our understanding of great apes and the many ways they are like us. The reader will encounter apes living in human families, painting apes, apes who use American Sign Language, and chimpanzees who travelled in space.

A philosopher and historian specializing in primatology, Herzfeld offers thought-provoking insights about our perceptions of apes, as well as the boundary between "human" and "ape" and what it means to be either." 




« What must it mean to hold open space, hold open the present and the future, for beings from whom modern humans have wrested space and lifetimes so radically? The Great Apes writes of the history of coming to know the apes in their profound similarities and differences from each other and from human beings. These histories are essential to deepening long-overdue practices of care for individuals and species. Terrans unite! » 


Donna J. Haraway, author of Primate Visions: Gender, Race, and Nature in the World of Modern Science



"Presenting a rich panorama of ape and human actors and the knowledge that their interactions have generated, Chris Herzfeld offers a history of primatology that is simultaneously engaging, enlightening, and inspiring." 


Richard W. Burkhardt Jr., author of Patterns of Behavior: Konrad Lorenz, Niko Tinbergen, and the Founding of Ethology


"Spanning centuries and continents, this book provides an excellent examination of the many scientists, philosophers, and artists who have grappled with the similarities and differences between humans and other apes while also bringing attention to the primates whose lives were observed, manipulated, or abused as part of this animal history."


Georgina M. Montgomery, author of Primates in the Real World: Escaping Primate Folklore and Creating Primate Science  



"A compact but wide-ranging survey of human beings' relationship to their closest living relatives in nature, the great apes (chimpanzee, gorilla, orangutan), within the context of the primates more broadly. There is an enormous amount of history packed into a relatively short space."


Ian Tattersall, author of The Strange Case of Rickety Cossack: And Other Cautionary Tales from Human Evolution and Masters of the Planet: The Search of Our Human Origins 





Foreword by Jane Goodall





1. The Uncanniness of Similitude: Wild Men, Simians, and Hybrid Beings

2. Skeletons, Skins, and Skulls: Apes in the Age of Colonial Expansion and Natural History Collections

3. Apes as Guinea Pigs: Primates and Experimental Research

4. Great Apes in the Eyes of Scientists: What Does It Mean to Be an Ape ?

5. Apes That Think They Are Human: Astronaut Apes, Painting Apes, Talking Apes

6. Conquering the Field: Pioneers, the Quest for Origins, and Primates

7. Socialities, Culture, and Traditions Among Primates: When the Boundary Between Humans and Apes Blurs

8. Women and Apes: Sex, Gender, and Primatology


Conclusions: Becoming-Human, Being-Ape



Voir le livre sur le site de la Yale University Press


<< Back