Next of Kin: My Conversations with Chimpanzees


My Conversations With Chimpanzees

by Roger Fouts with Stephen Mills

For thirty years Roger Fouts pioneered communication with chimpanzees through sign language—beginning with a high-spirited, unforgettable chimp named Washoe. Fouts’s groundbreaking work with chimpanzees, who share more than ninety-eight percent of our DNA, made scientific history.

This remarkable book tells the dramatic story of Fouts’s odyssey from novice researcher to celebrity scientist to impassioned crusader for the rights of animals. At the heart of the story is his magical decades-long friendship with Washoe, whom we watch grow from a mischievous baby chimp fresh out of the NASA space program into the matriarch of a clan of chimpanzees who fill these pages with tales of humor and heartbreak, loyalty and love. Living and conversing with these sensitive creatures has given Fouts a profound appreciation of how much we share with our closest biological relatives, and what they can teach us about ourselves. It also made him—at significant risk to his own career—an outspoken opponent of biomedical experimentation on chimpanzees.

Next of Kin is a voyage of scientific discovery and interspecies communication unlike any that has come before. This stirring tale of friendship, courage, and compassion will change forever the way we view our biological—and spiritual—next of kin.

Next of Kin: My Conversations with Chimpanzees

Praise for NEXT OF KIN

A Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year

Next of Kin has all the elements of a truly great novel—adventure, heartbreak, the struggle against evil, courage, and, of course, love.”

— Jane Goodall, from her Introduction to the book

“A startling, compassionate, honest, heart-wrenching book.”

—Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, coauthor of When Elephants Weep

“Beyond its exuberant storytelling value, this book contains ideas as revolutionary as any since The Origin of Species.”

—Seattle Times

“An exhilarating book that blurs the boundaries between human nature and chimp nature…This wonderful book will enthrall readers while making them think deeply about what, if anything, separates us from other primates.”

—Publishers Weekly

Next of Kin is more than a book about the theory and practice of science. It’s a love story. What Roger Fouts has learned from chimpanzees is that Descartes was wrong. Other animals do have minds. You cannot read this book and stay neutral.”

—Los Angeles Times

“A book that can leave no reader unmoved…a ringing J’accuse! against the scientific establishment.”

—Chicago Sun-Times

“An illuminating, stimulating, challenging, and humane story.”

—Washington Post

“A welcome rarity among science books written for the general public. It is modest, warm, generous, funny, exciting, and deeply affecting.”

—San Francisco Chronicle

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