On an East African hunting expedition in 1909, Delia Akeley, a forty-year-old American woman, casually captured a baby female monkey, never dreaming this act would overturn both their lives. Delia’s life was isolated and often lonely in an overpoweringly masculine world. She decided to name the monkey JT Jr and study her interactions with humans; a long-frustrated desire to adopt a child led her to also lose her heart to this lovable animal.
This relationship with a feisty, intelligent Vervet unlocked Delia’s latent talents of research and observation, anticipating both Jane Goodall’s chimpanzee writings and Margaret Mead’s Samoan ethnographies. It illuminates much about human-animal relations and the tyranny of gender inequality by reinstating an obscured story of a dedicated amateur primatologist.
Iain McCalman uses records, official and informal, to build a story of passionate love and hate among women, men, animals, and museums that predates our times but speaks to our present.
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“Iain McCalman recovers a forgotten story of the primal struggles between man, woman, nature, and culture…An inspiring and unsettling story from the heart of Africa and the heart of one extraordinary woman.”
Danielle Clode, author of In Search of the Woman Who Sailed the World