Books by Dale Peterson

The Ghosts of Gombe: A True Story of Love and Death in an African Wilderness

The Ghosts of Gombe: A True Story of Love and Death in an African Wilderness

University of California Press, April 17, 2018

On July 12, 1969, Ruth Davis, a young American volunteer at Dr. Jane Goodall's famous chimpanzee research camp in the Gombe Stream National Park of Tanzania, East Africa, walked out of camp to follow a chimpanzee into the forest. Six days later, her body was found floating in a pool at the base of a high waterfall. Was Ruth's death an accident? Did she jump? Was she pushed? In an extended act of literary forensics, Goodall biographer Dale Peterson examines how her death might have happened and explores some of the painful sequelae that haunted two of the survivors for the rest of their lives. Read More » | Purchase: Amazon.comIndieBound

Where Have All the Animals Gone?

Where Have All the Animals Gone?

Travels with Karl Ammann
Bauhan Publishing, 2015

This book is the narrative of my recent travels in Asia and Africa (Kenya, Uganda, Gabon, Central African Republic, Congo, and Namibia) with the photojournalist and wildlife photographer Karl Ammann. It is also an idiosyncratic and personal portrait of Ammann. Read More » | Purchase: Amazon.comIndieBound

The Jane Effect

The Jane Effect: Celebrating Jane Goodall

Co-edited with Marc Bekoff
San Antonio, TX: Trinity University Press, 2015

Jane Goodall's celebrity came early, starting in 1963 with the first National Geographic magazine article featuring a young Englishwoman living among the apes. That was followed by more articles, then television features and lecture tours soon reaching large and rapt audiences across the United States. Her 1971 popular book, In the Shadow of Man, became an international best-seller and was translated into close to fifty languages. Since then, she has been the subject of a seemingly endless series of documentaries, books, articles, reviews, and interviews—sufficient altogether that, with the possible exception of Marie Curie, Jane Goodall may be the best-known woman scientist in history. Read More » | Purchase: Amazon.comIndieBound

Giraffe Reflections

Giraffe Reflections

University of California Press, 2013

Giraffe Reflections, a new book about giraffes, with photography by Karl Ammann, illuminates the world of one of Africa's most beloved and best-known animals. Read More » | Purchase: Amazon.comIndieBound

Moral Lives of Animals

The Moral Lives of Animals

Bloomsbury Press; Reprint edition (June 19, 2012)

The Moral Lives of Animals began as an argument at a dinner party, where I introduced the idea that animals have morality. I was provoked by the incredulity this idea seemed to cause in the distinguished scholar sitting across the table from me—and persuaded by our dinner host and my friend, philosopher Ajume Wingo, that it was worth writing a book about. Read More » | Purchase:,  IndieBound

Elephant Reflections

Elephant Reflections

Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009.

I was encouraged to write Elephant Reflections by two editors at the University of California Press: a text to accompany my friend Karl Ammann's collection of gorgeous elephant photographs in a coffee-table style book. I love elephants. Read More » | Purchase:,  IndieBound

Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall: The Woman Who Redefined Man

Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006

Jane Goodall: The Woman Who Redefined Man began ten years before publication, near the end of 1996, when I was driving my friend Jane Goodall to the airport from a lecture she had given at MIT. The National Geographic had recently published a biographical sketch of her: the woman who had come to fame in the early 1960s with the story of her life among the wild chimpanzees and her startling discovery that chimps make and use tools. But I thought the Geographic piece was superficial, and during our ride to the airport, I said as much to Jane—and then blurted out, "You know, somebody should do a real biography of you." Read More » | Purchase:,  IndieBound

Eating Apes

Eating Apes

Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003

This is surely among the most difficult and disturbing books I've ever written, but I felt I had to write it because no one else would or could. I say "disturbing" because it is the grim story of how humans are killing and eating endangered great apes for food in Central Africa. But the story is not about hunger; it's about choice. Chimpanzee and gorilla meat is sold at a prices higher than beef or pork in the big cities of Central Africa because it's a luxury item. Read More » | Purchase:,  IndieBound

Jane Goodall: Beyond Innocence

Beyond Innocence: Jane Goodall's Autobiography in Letters, The Later Years

Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2001

These two volumes I edited in a fashion that tells Jane Goodall's life story largely in her own words. It's always been my own quietly personal opinion that her letters are her very best writing, and I do strongly recommend the collection to anyone wishing for a quick and pleasurable insight into the woman and her life. Read More » | Purchase:,  IndieBound

Jane Goodall: Africa in My Blood

Africa in My Blood: Jane Goodall's Autobiography in Letters, The Early Years

Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2000

These two volumes I edited in a fashion that tells Jane Goodall's life story largely in her own words. It's always been my own quietly personal opinion that her letters are her very best writing, and I do strongly recommend the collection to anyone wishing for a quick and pleasurable insight into the woman and her life. Read More » | Purchase:,  IndieBound

Storyville USA

Storyville USA

Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1999

I wanted to write a frothy, fun book that included "easy" travel—no more strange cities and dark woods in Africa—and would give my two children, Britt and Bayne, a glimpse of what I did for a living. Britt was in her early teens. Bayne was just approaching his teens. So it was a good time to do it; and to make sure they were engaged in the project, I wrote an official contract and officially hired them, for a certain minimal daily fee, to be my research assistants. Thus equipped, we set out on a four-month (a month a summer for four years), 20,000-mile road trip to find the country roads and see the small towns of America. Read More » | Purchase:,  IndieBound

Demonic Males

Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence

Co-authored with Richard Wrangham
Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1996

Demonic Males began as a casual cocktail party chat between myself and my friend Richard Wrangham. Wrangham is the Ruth Moore Professor of Biological Anthropology at Harvard University—a very smart guy who, having originally learned about chimpanzees by working at Jane Goodall's research site in Tanzania, went on to establish his own study site in Uganda. There are only four major wild chimpanzee research sites in the world; he worked at one, and for many years has run a second. He is certainly one of a tiny handful of top chimpanzee behavior experts in the world, and I recommend this book as an expression of his theoretical brilliance. Much of its logic depends upon a comparison of three very closely related ape species—chimpanzees, bonobos, and humans—and an assessment of why two of them (chimps and humans) are unusually violent, while the third (bonobos) is famously peaceful. Read More » | Purchase:,  IndieBound

Chimpanzee Travels: On and Off the Road in Africa

Chimpanzee Travels: On and Off the Road in Africa

Reading, MA: Addison Wesley, 1995

This book is based on three trips I made looking for chimpanzees in various parts of East, West, and Central Africa. I was very lucky to be invited to a number of research sites and chimpanzee sanctuaries as well as (towards the end of the book) a newly created national park in Congo-Brazzaville where the chimpanzees had apparently never before seen humans—and so I had my first, and I hope last, experience of knowing what it feels like to be an alien just arrived from another planet. It's pretty scary. Read More » | Purchase:,  IndieBound

Visions of Caliban: On Chimpanzees and People

Visions of Caliban: On Chimpanzees and People

Co-authored with Jane Goodall
Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1993

Having finished my first book on endangered primates, I decided to write a second that would concentrate on the best-known non-human primate species of all: chimpanzees. In order to write such a book, though, I needed someone who could advise and guide me on the subject. I thus contacted the chimpanzee expert Geza Teleki, and went out to his home in Washington, D.C., for our first meeting. After some preliminary discussions, he asked the question that apparently had been on his mind all along: "Would you be interested in writing a book with Jane Goodall?" Jane Goodall, the world's foremost authority on wild chimps, was hoping to produce a book about the human relationship with chimpanzees—both conservation and ethics, in other words—and she needed a professional writer. She had the expertise but not the time. I had the time without the expertise. That's how the collaboration began. Read More » | Purchase:,  IndieBound

Elephant Reflections

The Deluge and the Ark: A Journey into Primate Worlds

Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1989

In 1984, I decided I would focus on I had always cared about: animals. What kind of animal? Primates seemed interesting. I didn't actually know what a primate was, so the book is partly the record of my finding out, also of my discovering why the world's primates (some two to three hundred different species of monkeys, apes, and promisians) are being wiped out by human expansion. I traveled around the world to find the world's dozen most endangered primate species in their tropical forest homes, which means the book is also a narrative of adventure and travel. The Deluge and the Ark was short-listed in Britain for the Sir Peter Kent Conservation Book Prize. Read More » | Purchase:

CoCo Logo

New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1985

Intelligent Schoolhouse: On Computers and Learning

Reston, VA: Reston, 1984

Genesis II: Creation and Recreation with Computers

Reston, VA: Reston, 1983

Big Things from Little Computers

Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1982

During the first half of the 1980s, I put out these four books about computers, all written on my primitive little Apple II computer, which had been given to me by Steve Jobs, founder of Apple Computer. CoCo Logo is an introduction to programming for the TRS-80 Color Computer. Intelligent Schoolhouse is an edited collection of writings about computers in education; Genesis II is an introduction to how computers are being used in the creative arts—including games. Big Things from Little Computers is an introduction to personal computers. Read More »

A Mad People's History of Madness

Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1982.

From 1969 to 1971, I worked as an attendant in a large psychiatric hospital in California. The experience helped introduce me to "mad" people and their often distinctive inner experiences. Interested in the inner and outer worlds of mental illness, then, I familiarized myself with autobiographical accounts written by people who were mental patients or officially determined to be "mad" by their societies—covering everything written in English, or translated into English, from the 15th century to the present. The result of all that reading was this history of madness and psychiatry as told largely in the words of the patients themselves, covering a period of five and a half centuries. Read More »