Of Bonobos and Men
Bonobos have captured the public imagination in recent years, due not least to their famously active sex lives. Less well known is the fact that these great apes don’t kill their own kind, and that they share nearly 99 percent of our DNA. Their approach to building peaceful coalitions and sharing resources has much to teach us, particularly at a time when our violent ways have pushed them to the brink of extinction.
Of Bonobos and Men is the account of acclaimed author Deni Ellis Béchard’s journey into the Congo to understand bonobos and to learn how to save them. Along the way, we see how partnerships between Congolese and Westerners, with few resources but a common purpose and respect for indigenous knowledge, have resulted in the protection of vast swaths of the rainforest. And we discover how small solutions—found through openness, humility, and the principle that “poverty does not equal ignorance”—are often most effective in tackling our biggest challenges. Combining elements of travelogue, journalism, and natural history, this incomparably rich book takes the reader not only deep into the Congo, but also into our past and future, revealing new ways to save the environment and ourselves.
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Praise and Prizes
“Of Bonobos and Men is the embodiment of the type of reporting that we dream of reading, but all too rarely encounter—intelligent, engaged, and above all, astonishingly perceptive. Here is a portrait of a nation and the conservationists trying to protect it, rendered with all the necessary complexity to make this book joyously alive.”
“Here is the matter of conservation given profound explanation—a searching and knowing consideration that enables an important social and political and cultural struggle in Africa to become a needed lesson for us who live elsewhere to ponder, take to heart.”
“Deni Ellis Béchard, a foreign correspondent familiar with war zones, probes beneath headlines describing the Congo as ‘a country of such inhumanity that we find it incomprehensible’ and finds another, more hopeful reality. . . . Béchard’s adventurous travels in the Congo offer spice to this rich, complex account.”
“Reading Of Bonobos and Men brought me nearly to tears of despair for the desperate, desperate situation of bonobos, the world’s most endearing and endangered great apes—and then again to tears of joyful admiration for the brave and smart people working to save them in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Buy this book, and you will discover a seed of hope in our time’s garden of despair.”
“Deni Ellis Béchard’s masterful, adventure-driven reporting delivers an inspiring account of an all-too-rare ecological success story.”