- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: Citadel; 1 edition (March 1, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0806531339
- ISBN-13: 978-0806531335
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 9 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,438,251 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Intimate Ape: Orangutans and the Secret Life of a Vanishing Species Paperback – February 23, 2010
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Customers who bought this item also bought
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Journalist Thompson begins his introspective exploration of orangutans and the people who study and work with them with an expression of his own passion for these lesser-known apes. As he travels the rivers of Borneo on his way to the rain-forest home of the orangutan, he writes of those who have gone before, such as William Temple Hornaday, who shot orangutans for taxidermy as museum specimens even while he kept a young one as a pet. The author contrasts this early view of orangs with the dedication of such modern researchers as John MacKinnon, who was the first to spend long hours watching orangutans in the wild; Herman Rijksen, who began the process of rehabilitating formerly captive orangutans for re-release into their forest home; and perhaps the most famous, Biruté Galdikas, who made a commitment to the jungle and felt that she was born to study orangutans. This intimate look at a little-known ape will fascinate. --Nancy Bent
Top customer reviews
The book is not a romanticised view of the orang utans. They come with warts and all, as do the humans who interact or try to interact with them. Shawn Thompson presents his intimate reflections, gathered over some years, in a vivid, lively and engaging narrative which is often moving in the extreme. Part of the charm is that he is not a full time conservationist or scientific researcher. He seems rather to be like you or me and pretends to be no more than the warm-hearted, respectful journalist/writer/observer that he is.
Shawn truly gives us an intimate look into the world of different and individual orang utans, captive and wild, and leaves us definitely wanting more. He also leaves us, without being sanctimonious or didactic, acutely aware of the dire plight of the orang utan through our human domination of this planet and our destruction of the rain forest, the orang utans' habitat. The book reveals the total magic of the orang utan and how they inspire and change the people who interact with them. You feel the orang utans and the people as the complete individuals that they are. The characteristics thoughtful, gentle, devious, scheming, mischievous, dignified, wild, aggressive, quiet, contemplative, sensitive, aware, curious, bullying, intelligent, confident, serene, kind, determined, dominant, charismatic, humbling, awe-inspiring can be applied equally to humans or orang utans in this narrative.
I found it very poignant when, towards the end of the book, Sean wrote that the orang utans gave him an idea of something good in life worth saving but that sadly the plight of the orang utans themselves has not improved. Sean made me realise that we do not just want to be left with memories of orang utans when we have only explored a fraction of their worth. The book gives a tantalising glimpse into something wonderful but which we could lose all too soon.
I've spent the last couple of years learning about these magnificent animals, and Shawn's insights -- garnered from conversations with a veritable "who's who" of orangutan researchers and caregivers -- are entertaining and enlightening. There are a lot of "aha!" moments in the book, and I feel like I am emotionally connecting to the individual orangutans. (Surely, Princess would sit down with me too???)... But just as intriguing are Shawn's insights into the scientists and zookeepers who have contributed so much to our knowledge and to the efforts to save orangutans from extinction. Reading Shawn, I finally have a glimmer of understanding about the jealousies and the disagreements that plague the world of orangutan conservation. He also lets us see the collaborations and sharing.
As if all of this wasn't enough, we are lucky that Shawn also has a wonderful writing style. At times poetic, and other times delightfully sardonic, Shawn's literary ability makes a terrific read all the more enjoyable.
Unfortunately, his knack for telling the truth leaves us with the possibility -- no, the probability -- that orangutans are heading for extinction unless (as has become increasingly unlikely) society does a 180 and takes drastic action to save Indonesian and Malaysian rainforests. No cheery "we are all working together to save the orangutans" for this book, and I'm glad to see it. We need to face reality, and Shawn helps the reader do that.
I've added "The Intimate Ape" to two other books -- "Thinkers of the Jungle" and "Wizards of the Rainforest" -- as "must read" books for anyone interested in orangutans or, indeed, in saying goodbye to them. "When you say good-bye, you think of the sweet moments," Shawn writes. This book gives us those moments.