Alex & Me by Irene M. Pepperberg
How a Scientist and a Parrot Uncovered a Hidden World of Animal Intelligence--and Formed a Deep Bond in the Process

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Synopsis

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.

 

About Irene M. Pepperberg

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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.
 
Published October 16, 2008 by HarperCollins e-books. 244 pages
Genres: Crafts, Hobbies & Home, Nature & Wildlife, Young Adult, Science & Math, Sports & Outdoors, Professional & Technical, Biographies & Memoirs, History, Travel. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Alex & Me

Publishers Weekly

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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 l

Sep 08 2008 | Read Full Review of Alex & Me: How a Scientist an...

NPR

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Although his brain was no bigger than a walnut, Alex the African gray parrot could do more than speak and understand — he could also count, identify colors and, according to his owner Irene Pepperberg, develop an emotional relationship.

Nov 12 2008 | Read Full Review of Alex & Me: How a Scientist an...

BookPage

This book accents their emotional bonding, Pepperberg's struggles to keep her research activities afloat and accepted by the scientific establishment, the poignancy of her failing marriage, and - best of all - chronicles many touching and amusing moments of daily life with Alex.

May 18 2015 | Read Full Review of Alex & Me: How a Scientist an...

At Home With Books

This is the second animal book review I have read today that I have fallen in love with.

Jul 03 2009 | Read Full Review of Alex & Me: How a Scientist an...

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