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September 04 , 2008

Model of Prevention

Life Lessons


In this poignantly written autobiography, one of the most influential and well-connected nonpolitical figures of the past sixty-five years tells the sweeping story of a life that began humbly with humane values and continues to grow in scope and impact up to the present moment. David Hamburg started as a medical student with interest in stress disorders, paying special attention to the propensity toward violence, including the evolution of human aggression. He developed this interest in a variety of forums, eventually opening a chimpanzee laboratory in the wilds of Tanzania as well as at home at Stanford University, collaborating with pioneers in primatology, many illuminated in this book. In the course of coping with a hostage episode in a primate area of Africa, he became keenly aware of the magnitude and severity of human suffering. On resolving this crisis successfully, he was encouraged by leaders in both the scientific and policy communities to broaden his biological interests and extend them to the challenge of preventing deadly conflict (especially genocide). In the process, he brought together a dazzling variety of gifted people and inspired them to great accomplishments across a wide swath of institutions and subject areas. Ultimately, A Model of Prevention demonstrates the life lessons that any reader – but especially new, young, talented scientists and political aspirants – will come away with: Begin humbly; grow collaboratively; be open to new paths, what the author calls "permeable membranes," and unexpected twists and turns of opportunity. Along the way, think internationally, interdisciplinarily, and ingeniously – especially when confronted with terror, a lesson so relevant to today.

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