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Bonobo Handshake: A Memoir of Love and Adventure in the Congo Paperback – Bargain Price, June 7, 2011
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"Funny, adventurous, and heartbreaking, Woods takes us with her to darkest Africa to meet our nearest relative, the nearly extinct bonobo. This must-read book illuminates extraordinary courage in both people and animals."
-Sara Gruen, bestselling author of Water for Elephants
"Gain insights into both the darkness and altruistic sides of our own emotions by getting to know chimpanzees and bonobos in an African sanctuary. This book is both shocking and hilarious."
-Temple Grandin, author of Animals in Translation and Animals Make Us Human
"Don't think that this is just a book about apes. It's a love story, an adventure story, and a political education about a country that has seen more tragedy and inhumanity than you can imagine. Above all, it's an introduction to creatures who have every claim to being more human, in the best sense of the word, than we are."
-Adam Hochschild, author of King Leopold's Ghost
"This is a startling book. Page after page astonished me. A beautifully written journey into the tangled jungle of the human mind, it also brings us movingly into intimate, loving contact with our extraordinary cousins. This is a compelling story, told with striking honesty, humor, and intelligence."
-Alan Alda, author of New York Times bestsellers Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself and Never Have Your Dog Stuffed
"This is a thoughtful, eloquent memoir, well written and well researched, alternately charming and horrific."
-Minneapolis Star Tribune
"Woods' account of her time with the Bonobo apes is a story to savor."
"[Woods'] book about her work in the Congo is exciting, informative and personal. It is hard to come away without a soft spot for these frisky cousins of ours."
-St Louis Post Dispatch
"A page turner that journeys into the deepest jungle to tell a story of war, a peaceful primate cousin of man, and love - between woman and man and woman and ape."
-The Durham News
"A late-in-life coming-of-age story, Bonobo Handshake touches on redemption, the war and history of the Congo, anthropological science, research and its ethics, sex, and, principally, bonobos - one of humanity's closest living relatives. Dense, thoughtful, and at once playful and terribly harsh, Bonobo Handshake tells us a story we need to know."
"It is indeed a window into the emotions and psychology of our nearest primate relatives, bonobos and chimps. But more than that it's a revealing look into the mind and heart of a young woman finding her way as a scientist and a conservationist."
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Top Customer Reviews
Woods' writing is full of vivid and deeply touching bonobo sex and society, shocking stories of war in the Congo, driven by economic colonialism, and a humanity of vast depth and compassion.
She somehow manages to communicate bonobos to us with astonishing power - without ever making them cute almost-humans - and simultaneously to allow their 'beingness' to interpenetrate ours. My sense of our place in the Universe is broader, deeper and more generous because of it.
Here's a passage that was a perfect gift for me today:
And with every death, I know that bonobos are one step closer to extinction. No one knows how many bonobos are left, but it isn't enough to fill Yankee Stadium . . . But survival of the species isn't why I spend hours [waking] in the middle of the night crying. It's because we watched them grow up. Just like I have watched Mama Esperance's face [she's one of the dedicated Conglese who mother violently orphaned bonobos] lose its baby fat to reveal high, proud cheekbones and full lips. Her walk has transformed from light steps to a sensuous sway. Her cuteness has unfolded into a magnificent, beating beauty, so it almost hurts my eyes to look at her. When we are alone, she slips her hand into mine and leans close to whisper secrets that mean nothing except that I am important enough to trust . . . If I have learned one thing from the Congo, it is this: If there are those you love, whoever or wherever they are, hold them. Find them and hold them as tightly as you can. Resist their squirming and impatience and uncomfortable laughter and just feel their hearts throbbing against yours and give thanks that for this moment, for this one precious moment, they are here. They are with you. And they know they are utterly, completely, entirely . . . loved.
I picked up this book because I was intrigued by the Bonobo. Surely this woman had an amazing, humbling, awe inspiring experience! I was pumped!
It's not nice, what I'm gonna say, but it's true. Vanessa is too much of an idiot! I hate the book because it's spliced with frivolity and little regard for what I consider to be the important and truly interesting stuff.
Vanessa does an excellent job telling a personal story, the scientific studies with the Bonobos and the conservation efforts around this amazing species, and some history of the Congo.
Highly recommend it!