am 17. Dezember 1999
I was assigned to read this book for a physical anthropology class and I enjoyed it a lot. Sapolsky writes in the style of Stephan Jay Gould, connecting scientific abstracts to everyday life. I enjoyed reading it as it was rather lite material, but in some sense that was a problem with the text. Each chapter had one central point, and then a lot of extraneous words. So overall an interesting read, but not the best "popular" science I have ever read.
am 29. September 1998
Stanford professor, Robert Sapolsky, not only knows how to make deep scientific research accessible to the general public, he also has a biting sense of humor. As a science text, Sapolsky does provide the mandatory data and research, loads of supplemental cross-references, and a standard objectivism necessary to his field. Beyond the 'givens,' though, are the wonderful puzzles he sets for us to explore. He does give us at least one of the answers to the puzzle, if not the only answer, and he makes that clear. But in true Penn and Teller fashion, he shows the behavior, then tells how it comes about, but then adds another puzzle unanswered to the previous answer -- exactly what science is about: one more question. His explorations of voyeurism and gossip (why DO we do it?), decision making between two evils, and even puberty are mesmerizing.
am 28. März 2000
People have said some fairly stupid things in the name of socio-biology, but Robert Sapolsky isn't one of them. This is a distinguished researcher who can write like a best-selling journalist; a man who can address such deeply fundamental human concerns as growing up, growing old, and finding a god, and illustrate them with examples from baboon behavior, while not seeming to trivialize the issue; a man with enough courage in his observations to extend them into realms where science has been forbidden to tread, yet with the honesty and modesty to always indicate where he is uncertain, and even to include a rebuttal to one of his essays. One of the reasons I read is to get a chance to 'meet' authors like this.
am 13. Juni 1997
In the fine tradition of Lewis Thomas, Stephen Jay Gould and perhaps even Bill Nye, the Science Guy, Sapolsky brings behaviorial biology to the masses, folding in a good dose of neural anc clinical psychology in the mix.
With the softest of literary touches, a biting wit, and anecdotes that will make even the most deskbound of paper pushers yearn to "do science", he manages to relate the most cutting edge theories and discoveries of medical research in a way that anyone can understand. No one who is not him or herself involved directly in scientific research can afford not to read this book.
am 19. April 1999
While I bought this book expecting an "engaging and erudite" insight into the biological causes behind human behavior, I ended up getting one scientist's narrow perspective. Although the concept of the book is promising, its goals would perhaps be better served in a multi-author collection of essays. This book, written by a researcher of primate stress and its effects on their behavior, might be better titled "What Baboons do in their Spare Time and Some Obscure Connections to Humans".