Part IV, Adulthood

Chapter 22, The Baboons: Nick

Sapolsky’s research during the unstable years shows him that even more important than rank is the society in which the baboons lived. Physiological profiles are significantly affected by social affiliation which act as the means to cope with tough times. Personality also plays a significant role in stress – obviously Type A are more susceptible.

“Males who did the most social grooming and sat in contact with other animals most frequently had the lowest stress hormone levels.”

Nick joins the troop during the unstable years and isn’t well received, which is completely understandable because he harassed everyone. He slashed Rueben’s ass when he was submitting and chased Ruth up a tree and urinated on her.

Sapolsky recounts the love story between the aging Leah and Gums. They disappeared in a meadow together, and he never saw them again.

Benjamin showed his true colors of heroism when a lion spotted two kidlings on a sapling tree. Benjamin leaps out of nowhere in front of the sapling snarling and growling at the lion who flinches and leaves.

Chapter 23, The Raid

Sapolsky meets his wife, Lisa, towards the end of his postdoc in San Diego. Lisa immediately integrated into the village, women flocking to her with gossip and children flocking to her to play. The good times stopped rolling as the Kuria tribe attacked the Masai, shooting and stealing cows. The Masai band together to run 30 miles and chase the Kuria and their cows to the Tanzanian border with spears.

Chapter 24, Ice

Lisa and Rob head to Richard and Samwelly’s home village, where they eat, sing, and essentially celebrate all their relationships. Then, Rob plays some lighthearted pranks with a plastic snake and dry ice.

Chapter 25, Joseph

Joseph was a Masai security guard at a tourist camp, and he goes crazy. He quits his job and tells village children that he will see them in heaven. Villagers speculated if Joseph would kill himself, if he had been cursed by a shaman, if he was in too much pain from his ulcers. Joseph becomes a white man, then unwhite, then un-mad as he returns to his home village.

Chapter 26, The Wonders of Machines in a Land Where They Are Still Novel: The Blind Leading the Blind

Lisa and Rob venture to Mobassa. On the banks of the Indian Ocean, it is home to black Islamic Swahili people who are dignified and happy. A woman led them to her home and called them Germans asking for help with her refrigerator.

Chapter 27, Who’s on First, What’s on Second

Richard tells Rob and Lisa that a hyena has ripped through the tent of a cook the previous night at a campsite. They find him immediately and see lacerations covering his body. As the story goes, the Masai guards speared the hyena as he was fighting it. They investigate the crime scene. There’s no rip in the tent, but there are plenty of holes in this story. The cook stayed in the food tent which had no bottom, so there was nothing to stop a hyena from breaking in. The Masai guards were “drunk as skunks” on the town, so the second cook saved the first by throwing a rock at the hyena’s head. Case closed, but not really. The guards threaten the second man who receives no praise, and the old man steals the limelight in a newspaper article. Funny how the truth works, huh.

Chapter 28, The Last Warriors

Rhoda celebrates a massive victory as a school is built along the river. One day, the government outlaws warriors. So the Masai warriors run up and down the river with their cattle one day, and the officers were there with papers. Instead of violence, the Masai signed and resigned their warrior positions. Not everyone has stopped, of course, as some old men are taking boys to the bush and raising them in secret as warriors. Lisa and Rob meet one of these kids seized by warriors. They never see him again.

Chapter 29, The Plague

This chapter marks the beginning of the end of some of Sapolsky’s favorite baboons. It begins with a necrotic, feverish female from an adjacent troop sick at Olemelepo Lodge. After she perishes, they dissect her body and find nodules and hemorrhages coloring her insides in an array of sickly tectures and oozing bits. It was TB. Sapolsky, researchers, and veterinarians stew over the best way to quarantine the disease and struggle with the decision to do a firebreak… which means killing all the baboons who may have come in contact with it. Through time, Sapolsky decides against it and lets TB run its course. And it infects his troop. And he loses baboons he loves. He loses Benjamin and buries him, as he foreshadowed.

And the source of the TB is infuriating. Timpai, a Masai villager, took his TB infested cows to the meat inspector who sold the meat to the Olemelepo Lodge. Sapolsky’s conversations with Timpai, the inspector, and lodge manager were futile. And so were his conversations with people possibly consuming the TB infested bovine meat, whose remains lay outside the lodge for baboons to eat. And so Sapolsky was furious. And devastated. And wanted revenge. Over the years, he calmed down, had children he named after Benjamin and Rebecca, and took to teaching.