Using Shakespeare's play The Tempest and its characters Prospero and Caliban as structural metaphors representing the master-slave relationship between humans and chimpanzees, authors Dale Peterson and Jane Goodall collaborate in this exploration of our interaction with the species that shares more than 98 percent of our genetic makeup. After introducing us to an animal that fashions and uses tools, exploits forest medicines, transmits learned cultural behaviors, and exhibits human-like emotions, Peterson and Goodall present an illuminating, frequently startling study of the current threats to wild chimpanzees' habitats and the many abuses that chimps have endured and continue to face at the hands of humans. They address conservation issues and ethical questions concerning keeping chimpanzees in captivity, whether as pets or for entertainment or research, and offer firsthand evidence of the drastically declining numbers of chimpanzees in the wild.
Through their in-depth exploration of our relationship with chimpanzees, Peterson and Goodall demonstrate our close ties to these animals and also reveal how distant humans have become from their own place in nature. Both an informative, entertaining collection of stories about the authors' research experiences with chimps and a poignant call for a change in our perceptions and treatment of them, Visions of Caliban is a moving and important work.