James L. Newman brings a lifetime of study to this powerful exploration of the rich and varied interaction between gorillas and humans since earliest contact. Tragically, most free-living gorillas—facing habitat loss, disease, and poaching—are now endangered. At the same time, those in zoos and sanctuaries now lead much more secure lives. Following this transition through time, Newman highlights the roles played by key individuals, both humans and gorillas. Among the former have been adventurers, opportunists, writers, and scientists. The latter include real gorillas, such as Gargantua and Koko, and fictional ones, notably King Kong and Mighty Joe Young. This compelling book helps us understand how our image of gorillas has been both distorted and clarified through culture and science for centuries and how we now control the destiny of these magnificent great apes.
James L. Newman is professor emeritus of geography at the Maxwell School, Syracuse University.