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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 Processby Irene Pepperberg
Synopses & Reviews
On September 6, 2007, an African Grey parrot named Alex died prematurely at age thirty-one. His last words to his owner, Irene Pepperberg, were "You be good. I love you."
What would normally be a quiet, very private event was, in Alex's case, headline news. Over the thirty years they had worked together, Alex and Irene had become famous — two pioneers who opened an unprecedented window into the hidden yet vast world of animal minds. Alex's brain was the size of a shelled walnut, and when Irene and Alex first met, birds were not believed to possess any potential for language, consciousness, or anything remotely comparable to human intelligence. Yet, over the years, Alex proved many things. He could add. He could sound out words. He understood concepts like bigger, smaller, more, fewer, and none. He was capable of thought and intention. Together, Alex and Irene uncovered a startling reality: We live in a world populated by thinking, conscious creatures.
The fame that resulted was extraordinary. Yet there was a side to their relationship that never made the papers. They were emotionally connected to one another. They shared a deep bond far beyond science. Alex missed Irene when she was away. He was jealous when she paid attention to other parrots, or even people. He liked to show her who was boss. He loved to dance. He sometimes became bored by the repetition of his tests, and played jokes on her. Sometimes they sniped at each other. Yet nearly every day, they each said, "I love you."
Alex and Irene stayed together through thick and thin — despite sneers from experts, extraordinary financial sacrifices, and a nomadic existence from one university to another. The story of their thirty-year adventure is equally a landmark of scientific achievement and of an unforgettable human-animal bond.
"Alex is the African gray parrot whose ability to master a vocabulary of more than 100 words and answer questions about the color, shape and number of objects — garnered wide notice during his life as well as obituaries in worldwide media after his death in September 2007. Pepperberg, who teaches animal cognition, has previously documented the results of her 30-year relationship with Alex in The Alex Studies. While this book inevitably covers some of the same ground, it is a moving tribute that beautifully evokes 'the struggles, the initial triumphs, the setbacks, the unexpected and often stunning achievements' during a groundbreaking scientific endeavor spent 'uncovering cognitive abilities in Alex that no one believed were possible, and challenging science's deepest assumptions about the origin of human cognitive abilities.' Pepperberg deftly interweaves her own personal narrative — including her struggles to gain recognition for her research — with more intimate scenes of life with Alex than she was able to present in her earlier work, creating a story that scientists and laypeople can equally enjoy, if they can all keep from crying over Alex's untimely death." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[M]ovingly combines the scientific detail of a researcher...with the affectionate understanding that children...instinctively possess: that 'animals know more than we think, and think a great deal more than we know.'" Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
"Readers interested in how a scientist methodically goes about gathering data will find Alex & Me an intriguing look behind the scenes. But readers who are looking for a touching little love story get the better deal here." USA Today
"[A] nice companion to Pepperberg's more scientific writings." Library Journal
From Alex's first words to his sudden death, Alex & Me tells the story of a delightful and mischievous parrot who rocked the scientific establishment. Yet his real story can't be found in any science journal — the story of a relationship, with its affection, jealousy, and lifelong rewards. 8-page photo insert.
Alex & Me is the remarkable true story of an extraordinary relationship between psychologist Irene M. Pepperberg and Alex, an African Grey parrot who proved scientists and accepted wisdom wrong by demonstrating an astonishing ability to communicate and understand complex ideas. A New York Times bestseller and selected as one of the papers critics Top Ten Books of the Year, Alex & Me is much more that the story of an incredible scientific breakthrough. Its a poignant love story and an affectionate remembrance of Pepperbergs irascible, unforgettable, and always surprising best friend.
Dolphins arenand#8217;t just beloved, they are brilliant and conscious. So why do we treat them so terribly? Diana Reiss is one of the worldand#8217;s leading experts on dolphin intelligence. In addition, as a dolphin advocate, she is a leading rescuer who helped inspire and served as an adviser for the Oscar-winning filmThe Cove.Here, she combines her science and activism to show just how smart dolphins really are and why we must stop mistreating them. Readers will be astonished at their sophisticated lifelong creativity and playfulness, their emotional intelligence, their level of self-awareness, and their ability to communicate with humans. Her beloved mentor dolphins (as she calls them), each with distinct personalities, create their own toys, use underwater keyboards, tease and scold her playfully, and give us glimpses of their intelligence that often seem very familiar.The Dolphin in the Mirroris both a scientific revelation and an emotional eye-opener, revealing one of the greatest intelligences on the planet.
About the Author
Irene M. Pepperberg is an associate research professor at Brandeis University in Massachusetts and teaches animal cognition at Harvard University. She is head of the Alex Foundation and author of The Alex Studies: Cognitive and Communicative Abilities of Grey Parrots.
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