Frans De Waal is a primatologist. Like Mario Iacoboni, English is his second language and like Iacoboni, his ease and clarity writing it are enviable. The two books make an intriguing complementary pair. Iacoboni gives us a guided tour of the brain (ours and those other mammals). De Waal watches the behaviors a mirroring brain makes possible. Like Darwin himself (whom he quotes well), de Waal sees that cooperation, collaboration and compassion are evolutionary adaptations that are as decisive as competition. Like Darwin and Iacoboni, he acknowledges the contradictory and mixed character of primates (and other mammals whose behavior is shaped by mirroring/imitation).
The Age of Empathy, Nature’s Lessons for a Kinder Society, by Frans De Waal , Three Rivers Press, 2010