Customer Reviews for

Alex and Me: How a Scientist and a Parrot Discovered a Hidden World of Animal Intelligence - and Formed a Deep Bond in the Process

Average Rating 4.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

12 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

Truly amazing! Cry, laugh, and learn why "Bird Brain" is really a compliment

I loved this book. It is about a science experiment to prove the intelligence of an african gray parrot, but it is anything but a dry scientific report. It is told with so much love and feeling, it pulls you into the story and you get to know Alex very well.
I was ...
I loved this book. It is about a science experiment to prove the intelligence of an african gray parrot, but it is anything but a dry scientific report. It is told with so much love and feeling, it pulls you into the story and you get to know Alex very well.
I was most surprised by the concepts Alex picked up and learned on his own, without being taught: like to say no and mean it, or to apologize. I also loved how strict he was as an assistant teacher to subsequent other parrots, telling them to say words better. He could be quite bossy.
Overall, it is a warm, compelling and immensly interesting book.

posted by Astrid_T on October 29, 2008

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

Alex & Me is a journey into the capacity of animals to think, reason and emote.

For those that are skeptical about the ability of animals to think, reason, act on their thinking and reasoning and their ability to have emotions, Alex & Me should open your minds. Alex was an African Gray parrot who transformed the way scientists look at the minds of...
For those that are skeptical about the ability of animals to think, reason, act on their thinking and reasoning and their ability to have emotions, Alex & Me should open your minds. Alex was an African Gray parrot who transformed the way scientists look at the minds of animals.

This story is abundant with anecdotes of Alex's life and achievements, and chronicles the relationship between him and Dr. Irene Pepperberg. For the animal lover, you are sure to have your beliefs in animal cognition bolstered. For those that aren't animal lovers, you are sure to gain a new respect for animals. For everyone, this book will bring laughs and a tear to the eye.

All in all, the book is an easy and good read. I found myself wanting to know more about Alex's achievments than the bookk provided, and I was a little disappointed in the amount of time Pepperberg spent on her personal life. But I learned a lot about the animal mind and will never again use the term "bird brain" in a derogatory manner.

posted by cfboyd1961 on February 17, 2009

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  • Posted October 29, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Truly amazing! Cry, laugh, and learn why "Bird Brain" is really a compliment

    I loved this book. It is about a science experiment to prove the intelligence of an african gray parrot, but it is anything but a dry scientific report. It is told with so much love and feeling, it pulls you into the story and you get to know Alex very well. <BR/>I was most surprised by the concepts Alex picked up and learned on his own, without being taught: like to say no and mean it, or to apologize. I also loved how strict he was as an assistant teacher to subsequent other parrots, telling them to say words better. He could be quite bossy.<BR/>Overall, it is a warm, compelling and immensly interesting book.

    12 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 18, 2009

    amazing alex

    What an enjoyable read...Alex was quite a character, and left the world with a greater understanding of how animals think, and feel. Informative, entertaining, a good balance between scientific research and story telling,I was amazed with his antics and abilities ,and couldn't help falling in love with the little guy.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 23, 2008

    Alex & Me

    This is one of the best books I have read that made sense as to the parrot world! As a parrot owner myself, Dr. Pepperberg poured her heart out in the book and I hope she is able to go on with "The Alex Foundation" and her research with Wart and Griffin!<BR/><BR/>This books is heart felt and informative! Coodos to you Dr. P<BR/><BR/>Cynthia LaChester

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 9, 2008

    Alex & Me was absolutely excellent!

    I recommend giving this book to anyone who is associated with people who have birds, they will come away with a better understanding of the love we feel for our feathered children.<BR/>I truly enjoyed this book, we would not have considered an African Grey Parrot if it were not for Alex. Our baby died 5mos ago at 9yrs old, it was clearly my own feelings Irene Pepperberg described, once I was able to complete the first chapter, through my tears, it was a wonderful book telling of her tribulations and the excitement of her learning that birds are more aware than she ever knew!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 26, 2011

    Can't get any better than this!

    The title says it all. It is the biography of both bird and person. All the work done by both to accomplish what many didin't believe could happen. Well written, easy reading, and yet, statistical sound, I could follow the research process that Pepperberg went through in her work with Alex. It will give you a new respect for "bird brains."

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2011

    Inspiring

    I originally purchased this book because I knew of Alex but did not know the story behind why Dr. Pepperberg started out on the journey to research birds. I did not expect such a beautiful heartfelt story.

    As a bird lover and owner, this book brought me much joy and sadness, and gave me a much better understanding of my relationship with my Quaker parrot.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 11, 2009

    a delightful read for parrot owners

    if you own parrots, you will really appreciate the training that Alex went through and the patience of his trainer.
    it is a true story, not very lengthy and supports the "theory" that some parrots do realize what they say, not just mimick their handlers. granted, Alex was one parrot in a very few who achieved such a level of intelligence. after you read the book, you will wish you had met him.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2009

    Excellent!

    Outstanding telling of Dr. Pepperberg's research with Alex and African Grays in general. If anyone has doubts about the intelligence of animals, this will definitely eliminate them.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Sweet and touching

    The book is a great quick read. It was very touching, had it's scientific elements in discussing the research this lil guy revolutionized. It's warm, it's funny, and unfortunately quite sad as well. The story of how this lil guy comes into this scientist's life and basically changes the way scientists previously thought of these creatures. I know they do not just mimic or repeat words. Humans want to think they are one of the few that are capable of emotion, intelligence, communication, etc., but we have to realise that creatures of all sizes have emotions, intelligence and communicate in their own way. I have known several people that own African Grey Parrots and these birds demonstrate time and time again that they are quite capable of understanding questions and feelings, hence being able to respond to questions or commands accurately. I recommend this book to anyone who loves animals and science :)

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2008

    Insightful and inspirational!

    I have never been so emotionally affected by a book as I have with this one! A truly inspirational story about the famous African Grey parrot, Alex, and the scientist who studied him. "Bird brain" will have a whole new meaning after reading this book and learning about avian intelligence. This story explains the scientific studies involving African Grey parrots and the emotional and intellectual relationships among humans and other species. It shows how the tenacity, passion, and dedication of Dr. Pepperburg, led to the discovery of the intelligence of birds. It is a truly inspirational story and the best animal-related book that I have ever read! R.I.P. Alex.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2013

    Excellent and heartwarming

    A must-read for scientists and bird lovers alike!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2012

    Deserves 10 stars

    Great story and i learnda lot. It almost made me cry

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  • Posted February 4, 2012

    Very Informative

    This book was reccommended by a friend becasue I was wanting to read bird books. I learned a lot about African Greys and their capabilities. It was very moving and interesting. It would be a great read for people that still think that animals cant or dont think or feel. Which we all know is not true. Her struggle to prove that though is one worth praising!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 7, 2011

    Good Great book!!!

    I dont know what to say!!!!!!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 26, 2011

    One of my all-time favorites!

    I read this book a at least a couple years ago and plan to reread soon. With so many books I think that is the best compliment!

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  • Posted April 23, 2011

    Loved This!,

    Maybe you have to like and appreciate the gifts animals bring to our lives, but I found this book so enjoyable. Alex is a platinum plated star and I could see so well why Dr. Pepperberg loved him so much. Bonus...when you finish it, you can watch some actual videos of Dr. Pepperberg and Alex working together. Just search Alex parrot.

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  • Posted November 30, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Engrossing and delightful - buy one for yourself and another for your best friend!

    In June 1977, we drove to Noah's Ark, a pet store near O'Hare Airport in Chicago to pick out my own Grey parrot. I had been in touch with the bird department director of Noah's Ark several times in the previous few months, and knew they had been bred in captivity...The bird director greeted us and showed us where the Greys were, a big cage with eight birds, all about a year old. "Which one would you like?" he said, looking at me.

    I shrugged, because I didn't know how to choose. In any case, I reasoned that because I was embarking on a scientific study that should reflect the cognitive abilities of Greys in general, I thought it best to have one chosen at random. "Why don't you select one for me?" I said.

    "OK," he replied, and picked up a net, opened the cage door, and scooped up the most convenient bird he could reach. He flipped the bird on its back on a table, clipped its wings, claws, and beak, and popped it into a small box. Very unceremonious."
    -Alex & Me: How a Scientist and a Parrot Discovered a Hidden World of Animal Intelligence - and Formed a Deep Bond in the Process by Irene M. Pepperberg

    So begins the 30 year friendship and professional relationship that changes Irene Pepperberg's life and the world's understanding of the cognitive and communication abilities of birds (and by association non-mammals).

    In Alex & Me, Irene Pepperberg reads as part memoir and part a glimpse into her research. Irene shares what it was like for her from when she receives her first pet at four-years old, and bonds with a bird to her experience as one of the first young women in the hard sciences at MIT and Harvard in the 1960s and 1970s. Although Irene obtained her doctorate was in theoretical chemistry, she discovered and was drawn to the study of animal minds, animal thinking, and communication. While at Harvard, Irene fell in love and married a fellow graduate student. When her husband was offered a teaching position at Purdue, Irene accompanied him and tried to find financial and professional support for her research into the cognitive and communication skills of Grey parrots.

    She had no inkling of how much Alex and their work together experience would shape the next thirty years of her life and how they would change the world's understanding of the complexity and ability of a "bird's brain."

    The story of Alex & Me is also a story of deep friendship and the amazing bird that is Alex. I had no understanding of how much a bird could understand or process, but reading about Irene and her colleagues' experiences with Alex and the other Grey parrots makes you realize how amazing animals are. Alex and his colleagues are socialized and deal with people for hours each day and form close personal bonds and make themselves understood. I can't help but wonder about the other animals around us that must be able to comprehend much more than we'd given them credit for.

    Alex & Me is an amazing and touching book and the stories of both Irene Pepperberg and Alex will surely stay in your thoughts long after you've finished the book.

    Publisher: Harper Paperbacks; Reprint edition (September 1, 2009), 288 pages.
    Review copy provided by the publisher and TLC Book Tours.

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  • Posted November 10, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Bridget's Review

    Alex, an African Grey parrot, died at the ripe old age of 31. His brain may be small but he was an extremely intelligent creature. Irene loved her best friend Alex and was devastated when he passed away. This book shows that you don't have to be human to steal a humans heart.

    I adore my dogs and I have a special connection with them that can never be broken. I know about the love Irene felt for Alex and she told her story beautifully.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2009

    I loved this book as it took the reader from the beginning of a unique & special relationship with Alex the African Gray and Irene Pepperberg through an entire lifetime.

    Learning some of the research requirements where insightful to the way we categorize & label animals. Combined with the beautiful & loving friendship that developed very natually with Irene and Alex demonstrated the indepth emotions which are impossible to measure. I extremely enjoyed the way that Irene presented the events in her life and how Alex was impacted at each phase. Alex was the constant in her life for thirty years, someone she knew would be there for her, even if he showed displeasure in some of her choices. This is an emotional life story, I believe, especially because we can have a loving bond with our animal friends even if we speak in different languages initially. We can convey our feelings & desires when we stop to listen & care to listen. We can most definately share a love...

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  • Posted February 23, 2009

    Alex Has Much to Teach us All

    Alex & Me is a personal account of one person, and one bird's adventure in inter-species learning. It is hard to say in the end who learned more, Alex the parrot, about humans, or the rest of us about what we thought of animal intelligence. The story is a revealing account of the biases a scientific researcher found when challenging scientific dogma, and daring to cross across sacrosanct research boundaries. I recommend this book to anyone who love animals, wonders about the differences and similarities of our abilities to learn, especially regarding language and symbolic thought. Be sure to have a kerchief handy during the first chapter, since it is a tear-jerker.

    James Price

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