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% 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. Animated by a desire to understand bonobos and learn how to save them, acclaimed author Deni Ellis Bechard traveled into the Congo.
Of Bonobos and Men is the account of this journey. 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.
Deni Ellis Bechard is the author of the novel Vandal Love, winner of the 2007 Commonwealth Writers' Prize, as well as Cures for Hunger, a memoir about growing up with a father who robbed banks. His work has appeared in the LA Times, Salon, and Foreign Policy, and he has reported from Afghanistan, India, Rwanda, and Iraq.