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Captivity Hardcover – February 15, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 293 pages
  • Publisher: John F Blair Pub (February 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0895873532
  • ISBN-13: 978-0895873538
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 6.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,185,669 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. A South Carolina chimpanzee sanctuary affiliated with a university provides the unusual setting for Wesselmann's powerful second novel (after 1997's Trutor & the Balloonist). Dana Armstrong, a primatologist, acquired her understanding of chimpanzees at great personal cost, having been raised along with her younger brother, Zack, with a female chimp as a sibling (they communicated using sign language) until a tragic event ended the experiment. Now she must deal with an even more traumatic event. One day Dana arrives at the sanctuary, where she's the director, to discover that someone has damaged buildings and released chimpanzees unadapted to the wild. As Dana battles to save the sanctuary, personal and professional jealousies, campus politics, the fate of the chimpanzees and the stirring stories of Dana and her family play out in unforgettable fashion. With empathetic insight, the author precisely observes both human and animal behavior. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

A South Carolina chimpanzee sanctuary affiliated with a university provides the unusual setting for Wesselmann's powerful second novel (after 1997's Trutor & the Balloonist). Dana Armstrong, a primatologist, acquired her understanding of chimpanzees at great personal cost, having been raised along with her younger brother, Zack, with a female chimp as a sibling (they communicated using sign language) until a tragic event ended the experiment. Now she must deal with an even more traumatic event. One day Dana arrives at the sanctuary, where she's the director, to discover that someone has damaged buildings and released chimpanzees unadapted to the wild. As Dana battles to save the sanctuary, personal and professional jealousies, campus politics, the fate of the chimpanzees and the stirring stories of Dana and her family play out in unforgettable fashion. With empathetic insight, the author precisely observes both human and animal behavior. --Publishers Weekly (starred)

Wesselmann, Debbie Lee. Captivity. Blair. Feb. 2008. c.300p. ISBN 978-0-89587-353-8. $22.95.

Primatologist Dana Armstrong is passionate about making a difference in the lives of the animals living at a South Carolina chimpanzee sanctuary. But a break-in resulting in the escape of numerous chimpanzees forces Dana to not only determine who was responsible for the vandalism but also deal with her traumatic memories of the past for Dana is a survivor of a psychological experiment, raised as a child with a chimp named Annie. She now faces opposition from the local community, political pressure from her university, and a ghost from her past who is bent upon her destruction. To further complicate matters, Dana's seldom-seen rogue brother appears on her doorstep, and a handsome journalist tugs at her heartstrings. Novelist Wesselmann (Trutor and the Balloonist; The Earth and the Sky) has once again combined a riveting plot with exciting characters to hold you spellbound until the last page. This novel, which raises many ethical and moral considerations, is most timely. On October 30, 2007, a chimpanzee named Washoe died at the age of 42. He was the first nonhuman known to communicate in a human language. [For your reading group, you might want to pair this with Elizabeth Hess's nonfiction Nim Chimpsky: The Chimp Who Would Be Human. Ed.] Melody Ballard, Pima Cty. P.L., Tucson, AZ --Library Journal (starred)

More About the Author

*For review requests, please see below*
I'm an electronics and gadget junkie! I am also the author of three books, including the critically acclaimed Captivity (a novel) which received starred reviews from both Publishers Weekly, which called it "powerful" and "unforgettable" and Library Journal, which said, "Novelist Wesselmann has once again combined a riveting plot with exciting characters to hold you spellbound until the last page." To hear a podcast about Captivity, go to http://www.redroom.com/media/debbie-lee-wesselmann To find out more about my work, search Amazon.com or go to my web page at http://trutor.net

If you are contacting me to review a product, please put "Amazon" or "Review request" in the subject header to avoid my spam filter. Please note that I currently review few books and only high-quality literary fiction.

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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Captivity keeps the reader completely engaged throughout.
Douglas DO
The reader will learn much about the sad circumstances which surround the lives of these most endearing animals, chimpanzees.
Erika Borsos
Ms. Wesselmann skillfully introduces the reader to the world of primate psychology in her new novel "Captivity."
David Zimmerman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Erika Borsos VINE VOICE on June 19, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Debbie Lee Wesselmann provides a spell binding novel which sheds light on the precarious plight of chimpanzees which are raised in captivity and after having served the purpose of humans their lives are left in limbo. In a world concerned with saving our planet by going green, decreasing carbon dioxide emissions from gas-guzzling automobiles to keep our air cleaner and prevent global warming from destroying everything - here is another cause which deserves our attention and support with economic resources. The book is written with sensitivity, compassion, and knowledge about the lives of chimpanzees in captivity. It is a superbly written highly original novel which combines adventure, romance, and human interest, maintaining the reader's attention from start to finish.

Essentially, the book is about the scientist, Dr. Dana Armstrong, Director of the South Carolina Primate Project and her attempts to keep afloat the sanctuary which serves as home to chimpanzees who have been discarded after being involuntary participants in scientific experiments at labs or residents at zoos which have closed. The major problem she is facing is how to convince the University president and a major donor that her facility is a safe place for the animals and is not a threat to the neighborhood. Unfortunately, there was a break-in at the sanctuary and the animals were freed because someone obtained a key and simply opened up the cages, letting the animals roam about the offices, sanctuary and beyond, into the nearby family neighborhood.

Dana, Andy, the vet for the animals, Mary one of the research associates and graduate students helped round up the missing animals - all except one - the most dangerous, named Benji.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Irish Lace VINE VOICE on July 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I gave this book four stars because it's not Pulitzer material. But it's an excellent novel. The story unfolds with enough background to allow us to begin immediately to feel involved, and builds on the basic information with just the right amount of well-timed exposition. Each character "unfolds" exceptionally well so that the reader definitely experiences "getting to know" them moments. It's a skill to be able to do that well, and Debbie Lee Wesselmann is a skilled story-teller.

The basics of the story have been outlined well by other reviewers so I won't recap those. What I will say is that the book is one to be savored because the themes the author offers us are worthy of careful consideration. As I savored this book, I realized that it's not just about the "captivity" of the primates... or, rather, it IS about the captivity of ALL of the primates, including the human ones. And the careful reader will be fascinated by how each handles their "imprisonment" and if or how each escapes.

And, in the meantime, reading about ape behavior is fascinating and great fun. And you may also enjoy the irony of learning about how university boards and funding committees can behave.

Good book. I recommend it.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By R. Kyle TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Recently, the US Congress endowed retirement homes for chimps used in medical laboratory experiments. The facility in Shreveport, LA offers playtime and even TV--not surprising since these animals' contact was with researchers, their favorite show is "General Hospital." The reason for this endowment--we have come to realize how human chimps are and cannot simply euthanize them like a dog or a cat.

The South Carolina Primate Project is one such institution. Their primate residents are refugees from medical labs and roadside zoos. The chimps come from a wide variety of different backgrounds--some were born and bred in captivity, some captured in the wild. Some are loving and gentle, and others like "Benji" have been so brutally treated, they require sedation for a human to even treat a wound.

Dr. Dana Armstrong presides over this precariously funded project. She's a natural for the job, since her family was one of the first to have a chimp member. Her psychologist father, Dr. Reginald Armstrong, was one of the University of Oklahoma professors who adopted a chimpanzee and took the primate in as a family member. The Armstrong family's interactions with Annie were videotaped and shown all over the world. To this day, the Armstrong children are still haunted by their 'sister' and wonder what happened to Annie when the funding for their project ran out.

"Captivity" opens with a crisis at the sanctuary. Someone's broken in and set the chimps free. Benji, one of the HIV-positive chimps is loose. He's their most dangerous resident, having suffered serious abuse from a prior roadside zoo owner. Even the familiar handlers approach Benji with extreme care. If he bites or harms someone from nearby Harris, SC, it's conceivable he could infect them with HIV.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Cameron-Smith TOP 1000 REVIEWER on July 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In Dr Dana Armstrong's world, as the director of a sanctuary for chimpanzees in South Carolina, she is doing the best she can for those chimpanzees damaged or exploited by their interaction with humans. Unfortunately, the sanctuary is vandalised, chimpanzees are set free and the resulting publicity threatens to destroy everything that Dana has worked towards. In addition, echoes from Dana's own childhood are threatening to place her career in jeopardy.

In this moving novel, Ms Wesselmann gives life to an engaging cast of characters, include chimpanzees and their carers as well as activists, academics and villains. In confronting her past, Dana also learns to face a different future. This story is both heart warming and heart wrenching. It invites readers to think beyond the fiction. Deftly written, without extraneous verbiage, Ms Wesselmann writes a powerful novel where not everything is as it seems. Family secrets, power struggles, romance are issues in the human and chimpanzee worlds as well. I finished this novel some days ago but will continue to think about the messages and their ramifications for some time to come. And that, for me, is usually the difference between a 4 and 5 star novel.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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