Even bolder and more important than its companion volume, Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?, de Waal’s 2016 best seller ... puts these most vivid of mental experiences in evolutionary context, revealing how their richness, power and utility stretch across species and back into deep time ... Though emotions are our constant, intimate companions, de Waal surprises us on almost every page. This book is full of the kind of facts you call up your best friend to share.
[De Waal's] best book ... Though science has long resisted the idea that non-human animals share aspects of human traits, de Waal brilliantly builds his case that emotions are 'bodily expressed,' therefore somewhat measurable, and that not only can we see that other creatures have emotional lives, but that they can help us understand what underlies our own ... [De Waal] uses his own research, some familiar from his other books, lots of it fresh, and weaves in thoughts from literature, art criticism, and a pile of work from others ... [De Waal's] book too may help reframe how we see animals and our place among them. Ultimately, the conversational tone isn’t just a style, but a key to understanding — these are complex notions, he seems to say, but just use your common sense.
Through colorful stories and riveting prose, de Waal firmly puts to rest the stubborn notion that humans alone in the animal kingdom experience a broad array of emotions ... Occasionally, de Waal overgeneralizes. It's startling to encounter this kind of gender stereotype: 'Attractive women, especially those of childbearing age, are perceived as rivals by other women, which makes it hard for them to get their vote' ... Through these powerful statements coupled with his convincing descriptions of animal emotions, de Waal contributes immensely to an ethical sea change for animals.