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An exhilarating quest into a remote African forest to examine chimpanzees and understand the roots of human behavior.
As a young student, John Crocker embarked on the adventure of a lifetime, spending eight months in the Gombe forest working with Jane Goodall. He followed families of wild chimpanzees from sunrise to sunset and learned the fundamental behavioral traits of these chimps as they raised their offspring.
One chimpanzee captivated him. Her name was Fifi, and she displayed extraordinary patience and reassurance toward her infant, Freud. Upon returning home and becoming a doctor, Crocker found himself incorporating the lessons he learned from Fifi into his work as a father and physician. When he witnessed his young patients rocketing around his exam room, he would picture Fifi’s patience and tacit approval of Freud’s uninhibited and joyful exploration.
Crocker shares how his time spent with our closest animal cousins has helped him better understand his patients with ADD, anxiety, and depression, and how primate traits hardwired into our own natural behavior help chimpanzees protect their community, raise their young, and survive. Finally, chronicling his return to Gombe thirty-six years later with his own son, he reflects on how his experience with the chimps has come full circle.
An illuminating book that will raise thought-provoking questions about the evolution of human behavior and the importance of patience and strong family bonds, Following Fifi provides a greater understanding of what it means to be human.
“A truly extraordinary book. As I read it I was transported back to those wonderful days when I lived in Gombe. It is fascinating to read how John’s observations of chimpanzee children with their mothers and other family members helped him understand the problems of a human child.” — Jane Goodall
“Beautiful descriptions of the natural surroundings in Tanzania and the importance of spending time in nature weave their ways throughout the narrative. An absorbing tale of the profundity of the human-chimp bond and how it can inform interactions among humans.” — Kirkus Reviews
“A sympathetic personal journey that explores the many profound similarities between humans and the creatures with whom we share 96 percent of our DNA, this book will make a great addition to public and college libraries alike.” — Library Journal
“Crocker, who studied chimpanzees with Jane Goodall, presents an intriguing analysis of human behavior in his new book. In focusing on an incredible chimp mother named Fifi, he reveals that we have a lot to gain by learning from chimp parenting.” — Paste (Best Books of December)
“Eloquent and appreciative. Crocker thoughtfully muses on parenting, nostalgia, and lifelong friendship. Crocker’s book is emotionally stirring without being overly sentimental, and is as much about human experience as it is about comparative ethology.” — Publishers Weekly
“A gentle and thoughtful look at our bond with nature, especially with our closest relatives.” — Booklist
“Spending time with wild chimpanzees—and watching their mothering skills—has marked John Crocker for life and shaped his work as a family doctor. A delightful book full of love and respect for both animals and humans.” — Frans de Waal, New York Times bestselling author of 'Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?'
“John Crocker’s memoir traces a unique and fascinating arc from his early fieldwork with Jane Goodall, through a career in family medicine, and then back to revisit the people and chimpanzees at Gombe Stream. Written with genuine feeling and filled with intriguing insights, Following Fifi is a great read.” — Thor Hanson, author of 'Feathers' and 'The Triumph of Seeds'