Alex & Me: How a Scientist and a Parrot Discovered a Hidden World of Animal Intelligence--And Formed a Deep Bond in the Process
Prices for book: Alex & Me: How a Scientist and a Parrot Discovered a Hidden World of Animal Intelligence--And Formed a Deep Bond in the Process
Book ISBN: 9780061672477
Author(s): Irene Pepperberg
Document type: Trade Cloth
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In Alex & Me, the scientist Irene M. Pepperberg tells the story of how a precocious little African Grey parrot went from science model to companion and friend while shaping a research phenomenon. While many in the companion parrot community recognize Alex's name, recognize Pepperberg's name, recognize that he was "smart" and contributed somehow to scientific research on animal communication and learning, Pepperberg brings the Alex Studies into focus in a conversational manner in this book. This isn't high-science language with all the big Latin terms that make the layperson cringe. This is down-to-earth relating that made me laugh at Alex's antics and parrot humor, and brought tears to my eyes at the struggles his scientist and friend went through keeping his project funded in a scientific community that didn't quite believe in her work and didn't quite believe a woman should be doing it. Add to that a husband who more than once suggested she get a "real" job when grants and funding ran slim and I found myself rooting for these two like this was a movie to which I didn't already know the tragic end.
But there was success. There was fame. There was recognition from the scientific community. And there was a special, beautiful bond between a smart bird with a fun sense of humor and his human companion. I recommend Alex & Me to anyone in the scientific community, in the animal husbandry/pet industry, and who enjoys a good story about an amazing bird. The two items that will frustrate the reader: Pepperberg doesn't tell the results of Alex's necropsy and doesn't tell whether her research continues with Wart and Griff. Of course these are things you can Google...but why would something so important be left out of Alex's memoir? Other than that, the reader should enjoy this book immensely.
From Fantasy Author Sandy Lender
Sandy Lender (Amazon.com)
A Fascinating Journey into a Bird's Mind
As both a bird and animal lover, I adored this book. I had never heard the story of Alex before and once I picked up the book, I couldn't put it down. This is not only the story of the bird, but of the author, Irene Pepperbergs's, journey. I laughed, cried and cheered her on, as she struggled to research Alex's mind with little support from the general academic community.
As a female living in modern times, it gave me a new appreciation for the equality we have today. I guess I never realized how hard it was for a female to survive, let alone obtain success, in the male dominated world of science just a few decades ago. The author was a pioneer in animal intelligence. I was truly inspired by her devotion and dedication to both Alex and her research.
Angel Lee (Amazon.com)
Good one because of Alex
I hesitated in buying this book because of some of the reviews. But I wanted to know more about Alex so I bought it anyway.
I didn't really like the writing style (kind of sloppy) of the author and the way she told the story. I find the book is interesting only because Alex was interesting. Alex was extremely intelligent and it was a pity and sad thing that he died young.
Not the best book about animals but acceptable.
Michelle Ng Wei Li (Amazon.com)
I Laughed... I Cried... I read "Alex and Me"
Yes, I laughed quite a bit, and I cried once and "Alex and Me" is an enjoyable book that really covers the author's early years (briefly) and her academic challenges (many) as well as the genius that was Alex, the Grey African Parrot.
The book is a quick read that could appeal to a broad age-range. I think it appropriate for even for tweeners as there's maybe one 'damn' and no violence or untowardness, unless you count Alex's happy mating dance he did when he was sitting on a human friend's shoulder.
The research is covered in easy terms. If you are really interested in the experimentation, by the way, you won't find this book satisfactory. Experiments are covered in general and easy to understand terms, but not 'vigorously'. You might try "The Alex Studies: Cognitive and Communicative Abilities of Grey Parrots" which sounds like it would deal more with the profound information that Alex taught us.
All-in-all I wish there had been more Alex and less 'me'. The academic struggles for funding, and the battles with the staid, pig-headed science establishment were interesting, but the personal aggrandizement wasn't handled as well as it could have been. (There's just such a fine line there) "Alex and Me" is an appealing read, and I'm glad I read it, but it's best gotten at the library or used.
Pam Tee (Amazon.com)
We Are Still Alone
What can be more fascinating then the discovery that animals have intelligence that transcends instinct? Intelligence that if proven declares to the world that our cohabitants on this planet have actual minds not just automatic organs called brains. That they are conscious creatures that have emotions, exhibit behaviour with a sense of right and wrong, can solve complex problems thought to be the sole domain of primates, and can communicate using human language.
Irene Pepperberg takes on this fascinating challenge with the narration of her thirty year life with the African Grey Parrot named ALEX for Avian Language Experiment. Her book, "Alex and Me", written in the years after the untimely death of Alex, provides a brief glimpse into that thirty year life - a biography of both their lives together and some of the science they conducted.
Unfortunately this book is not sufficient to explain the scientific precision that Pepperberg used during the training and experiments that were conducted with Alex. It is also not sufficient to probe the depths of her thirty year obsession to prove Alex, African Greys, and the greater animal kingdom are more like us than we have ever considered. It is sufficient to introduce her work, establish Alex in the zoological vernacular, and provide a platform to raise futher funding for the Alex Foundation to ensure future studies continue with these amazing birds. Alas it is a superficial treatment of the subject and therefore does not deal with the philosophical implications of these discoveries.
These birds have perhaps the intelligence of a 3 to 4 year old child -- what does that mean? Those of us who love animals, have grown up with animals, and can already communicate with our house pets have always recognized that there is more to their existence than what has been literally interpreted for us by our western philosophy, that humans are somehow unique. Does proving the fact that we are not unique change anything? The book is full of implications that it does, yet it never establishes why, after all this scientific research, that we should do anything different other than spend more time with our pets -- particularly if we own an African Grey -- but that is probably a sufficient purpose.
The book is short and not particularly well written but the anecdotes about Alex prove interesting enough to continue through to the end -- and it certainly compels one to seek more information about this research -- it does not, however, prove to anyone other than those who already know, that "we" are not alone.
James Muccio (Amazon.com)
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