Gorillas in the Mist Essay - Critical Essays

Dian Fossey


Although many scientific terms are used throughout the book, Gorillas in the Mist tells such an engaging story that it can interest readers without scientific training. Readers come to know gorillas as complex, intelligent, curious, charming creatures, with family lives and conflicts not unlike those of humans. Although primarily intended for adults, this book can be of interest to older teenagers; sophisticated terminology and mature topics make it inappropriate for younger readers. Appendices and an extensive bibliography at the end are designed for those with more scientific background. The book is a mixture of scientific reporting and less-documented, often-impassioned opinions. From a scientific standpoint, as the first multiyear field study of mountain gorillas (Gorilla gorilla beringei, a different subspecies from lowland gorillas), Fossey’s work cannot be ignored.

The patience that is necessary in field research and the difficulties of living in the bush, without modern conveniences, are clearly described. For young people interested in science, the book can serve both to inspire and to point out the potential drawbacks of such work. As a popular narrative, however, the book does not give a realistic picture of the meticulous, unglamorous, highly controlled, and statistical nature of most scientific research. In contrast to reports in academic journals, which are often inaccessible to high school or undergraduate readers,...

(The entire section is 554 words.)