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Alex & Me: How a Scientist and a Parrot Discovered a Hidden World of Animal Intelligence--and Formed a Deep Bond in the Process Paperback – September 1, 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
The book begins with the aftermath of Alex's untimely death -- he should have lived for at least another 20 years, and his death was a great loss not only to the scientific community, but to those "ordinary" human beings who were touched and changed by his presence.
As the book continues, we read about "No Name" -- the parakeet that brought joy to a little girls's insulated world, and Bluey, Greeny and other much-loved birds who brought sunshine into her otherwise lonely childhood -- and then Charlie, whose feathers found their way into an MIT meeting.
And then, at Harvard, one question "What animal should I study?" brought Alex into Irene's life, for the next 30 wonderful, trying (including an extremely dense ticket agent, who had trouble understanding why "a bird" would need luggage), frustrating, joyful years.
This book was a labor of love -- as were the 30 wonderful years with Alex, whose "brain the size of a walnut" astounded Irene and her colleagues with its information gathering and associative abilities.
I was highly amused to read about the withdrawal of cardboard (he'd chew it) and feeding tofu to calm down Alex's raging hormones -- hey, whatever works!!!Read more ›
The actual conversation in the book:
"You be good. I love you," Alex said.
"I love you too."
"You'll be in tomorrow?"
"Yes, I'll be in tomorrow."
With that cleared up, this is a very quick, entertaining, and potentially important read. Anyone who has ever bonded with an animal will feel the grief reading through the condolences the author received after Alex's death. There are also many laugh out loud moments describing his antics.
I've read works about animal thinking by Donald Griffin and Bernd Heinrich, both mentioned in the book, but Alex's story was completely new to me. I'm not sure how much repetition there will be for those who knew of his fame or have read the author's previous, apparently much more science-oriented book about Alex.
I've long believed that most humans and scientists are both ignorant and arrogant in how they regard other animals and that's the topic of the final chapter What Alex Taught Me. In one paragraph about animals and political rights, it wasn't clear to me exactly what the author had in mind, but I found myself in complete agreement with everything else she had to say in this chapter. I salute her strength in going against the grain of mainstream thinking with regard to animals in her work with Alex, and I hope his life will cause others to learn as well.
Once Alex finally makes an appearance, the book becomes more interesting. However, Dr. Pepperburg doesn't do a convincing job of showing the bond between herself and Alex-- there are a few places where she shows it such as when Alex becomes deathly ill with Aspergillosis, but far too much of the book is spent detailing her problems finding research funding and her moves from campus to campus trying to find a home for her project.
That being said, when she does allow the story to focus on Alex, it is touching and amusing. It is impossible not to fall in love with the parrot and become awed at the intelligence he demonstrates. I became so attached to Alex that when I finished reading the book I went back and re-read the first 25 pages because now I could finally relate to the sense of loss and grief expressed by others.
At the end, there are two questions that Dr.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great read. I liked when he showed his attitude. There was a lot to this little guy. Wish I could have been able to meet him.Published 25 days ago by Sandi Pemberton
I laughed and cried reading this book. What a star Alex was, funny, stubborn and caring.Published 1 month ago by Kathy
I'm not finished reading this book, but I have already learned a lot of important information about African Grey parrots. .Published 2 months ago by Gerri Skeen
This was a great story. Knowing it was true and about the well known African Grey Alex made it even more interesting. Loved it!!Published 2 months ago by Cheryl C. Grogg