While visiting a primate sanctuary for a story on captive chimpanzees, Siebert (Wickerby: An Urban Pastoral) encounters Roger, a chimpanzee formerly used in the entertainment industry, who seems to remember him. In one transformative night, Siebert sits up until dawn with Roger, repairing their apparently severed bond, pondering the meaning of humanity's relationship to nonhuman animals, and recounting some of the ugly history of exotic animals killed, captured, bred, and abused by humans in the name of entertainment and research. While Roger seems to find healing in the interaction, the human finds metaphysical escape. Seeing in Roger reflections of himself, Siebert concludes that a self-centered humanity may stop abusing nonhumans if we perceive them to be part of ourselves. While his musings occasionally come across as self-absorbed, Siebert's writing is fresh and evocative, and his sensitive and sustained attention to Roger is moving. Given the popularity of human/animal friendship stories, this book will likely be of interest to readers in both public and academic libraries.—Leslie J. Patterson, Chicago P.L.
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While writing a story about chimps for the New York Times Magazine, Siebert was visiting sanctuaries established for former ape actors and research animals when he came to a facility in Wauchula, Florida. As soon as chimpanzee Roger saw him, he stood up and gave three loud, slow claps, causing the caregivers to comment on the immediate recognition. Siebert asked to stay and visit with Roger, wondering at this connection with an animal he’d never met, and the result is this elegiac meditation on the bond between human and ape, centered on one night that the author spent with Roger as he and the chimp sit and commune through looks and body language. This leads the author delving into our treatment of nonhuman animals and finding the connection that he and Roger both sought. --Nancy Bent --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Editorial Reviews
A great nonfiction work that often brought me to tears as reading it opened up new avenues of understanding the plight of animals in our world.Published on December 23, 2012 by M. Baer
BEST book I have ever read. Amazing structure, writing, concepts, depth of humanity. I am no writer, however, I grew up in the woods & the author captured above & beyond what I... Read morePublished on February 23, 2012 by Julie Locke
Before I even got to the title page of this book I found myself reading an excerpt from a poem by Pablo Neruda:
"It so happens I'm tired of being a man... Read more
What I liked:
Mr. Siebert created a complex structure to tell his story, sort of like the Russian nested figurines. Throughout, we are with Mr. Read more
I could not put this book down and cried at times while reading this book. The story is so compelling and I have for years believed that our use of primates for medical research,... Read morePublished on April 18, 2010 by sandi beach
I don't know if Charles Siebert's long meditation on animal intelligence amounts to "a new understanding of animals" but it certainly casts light on our shameful exploitation of... Read morePublished on January 14, 2010 by Robert Carlberg
Ignore the #of stars I entered. My browser's screwed up, and I can't see what I'm checking.
I catalog books for a library. Read more
What a writer. I've read a lot of books about exotic animals throughout The Medici Giraffe and this is the most thoughtful, well-written and interesting. Read morePublished on November 8, 2009 by Ryan C. Holiday