A new look at man, primates, and love

Alice Farnsworth reviews the much-talked-about book that reveals as much about man as does it about apes. Here is her report: 

I confess to having read Bonobo Handshake: A Memoir of Love and Adventure in the Congo, by Vanessa Woods a few months ago. I couldn’t write about it right away, because I was moving. Even so, when I started it I couldn’t put it down, not until I’d read it, cover to cover. It’s a page turner, exciting, and fun.

 
Vanessa Woods falls in love with Brian, a handsome, brilliant, charismatic man, whom she barely knows. She marries him and is whisked away to the Congo, home of the almost-extinct rare apes called Bonobos. That is the personal story line.
 
More importantly, it’s a wonderful book, an important book. And the most important thing I can say about it is to beseech all of you to read it. Please, please, please read it. I laughed and cried and was amazed. I learned about history and about love on many levels.
 
Bonobo Handshake is a mixture of personal story-telling, science, politics and history, all coming together to inform each other. It engages the heart and the mind, and gives some hope, because in studying chimps and Bonobos, we perhaps can understand humans. Genetically there is only a 1.3 percent difference between the peaceful Bonobos and us. So, what makes us human? What belongs to us, what to the social Bonobos and what to the more warlike chimps?
 
And what is a Bonobo handshake? When you find out, I guarantee you a good laugh. 
 
Bonobos are part of bloody Congo, and are disappearing quickly. They have only one sanctuary, Lola Ya Bonobo Sanctuary, outside Kanasha, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo. If you would like to adopt a Bonobo, or just learn more about the sanctuary, check out the website: www.friendsofbonobos.org.
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