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Alex and Me: How a Scientist and a Parrot Uncovered a Hidden World of… (2008)

by Irene M. Pepperberg

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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9337217,832 (3.89)50
This story of Alex, a famous African Grey parrot, documents his thirty-year relationship with his trainer and the ways in which his life has changed scientific understanding about language and thought.

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Showing 1-5 of 72 (next | show all)
skimmed this one for Coffee and Books. Really interesting memoir that details her work with the surprisingly intelligent African Grey Parrot. ( )
  readingjag | Nov 29, 2021 |
I put off reading ALEX AND ME because I heard it was a tearjerker. It isn’t. And I am glad I finally read it.

This book is nonfiction about a scientist, Irene Pepperberg, trying to determine the intelligence of parrots, Alex in particular. She worked with other parrots as well, but her longest relationship was with Alex, and Alex's demonstrated intelligence outshone the others.

Over Alex’s 30 years, Pepperberg continually faced a scientific community that denied her claims. For the last few years of Alex‘s life, though, they were beginning to accept that a parrot with a bird brain the size of a walnut could do at least what a chimp could, I.e., communicate.

Alex became somewhat of a celebrity with his demonstrations of intelligence. Most impressive, though, was Alex‘s ability to show that all animals have intelligence and can think. ( )
  techeditor | May 16, 2021 |
4.5 stars
Dr Pepperberg provides keen insight into the challengers a researcher faces, both professional and personal. (Some reviewers complain there's too much of this - I liked it)

Alex, of course, is the star, and rightly so. Fascinating how his responses to the training informed and changed what Dr Pepperberg created in building an assessment program. The bond between them is built up in layers and slowly revealed as we read through (too slowly for some, I guess!)

Even though I knew the ending, I wasn't prepared for the emotional impact. I sobbed through the entire last part of the book. Grateful to have shared, however tangentially, in this story. ( )
  MLHart | May 22, 2020 |
Frankly, Irene by herself is not appealing. So her childhood and adolescence in the first third of the book; and her afterward mourning and preaching detract from the book. Alex is the star, and scenes without him are just irrelevant filler material.
Alex is quite a personality. And while Pepperberg is always careful to couch her results so as to not claim too much, Alex' intelligence and wit shine through. ( )
  2wonderY | Nov 9, 2019 |
Irene grew up in a family with a deficit of love and companionship, except for a parakeet that her father bought her as a pet. She loved that parakeet and it was her constant companion. So it is not a total surprise, after obtaining degrees in chemistry and biochemistry, that she might turn to animal communication as her postgraduate field of study and that she would decide to use the African Gray Parrot, renowned for its ability to talk and mimic the sounds of other animals and people. Despite difficulties finding stable faculty positions, she managed to do groundbreaking work in animal communication and linguistics with her beloved parrot, Alex. Alex seemed to be an extremely intelligent parrot who, often as not, would purposely give the wrong answer unless she did something he wanted, or often interrupt training sessions with other parrots to give the right answer. He also used to ask questions and give answers he was never taught and seemed to understand principles such as quantity, the idea of zero and other ideas often thought to be too sophisticated for a "bird brain". A lifelong relationship, ended too soon by Alex's death at the age of 31, was a rewarding scientific journey and a wonderful story about how a person and a parrot can grow to value each other's company. I highly recommend reading this book for its novelty, its warmth, the science and the humor. ( )
1 vote krazy4katz | Sep 28, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 72 (next | show all)
This ornery reviewer tried to resist Alex’s charms on principle (the principle that says any author who keeps telling us how remarkable her subject is cannot possibly be right). But his achievements got the better of me.

» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Irene M. Pepperbergprimary authorall editionscalculated
Gibson, JuliaReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Alex
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How much impact can a one-pound ball of feathers have on the world?
(during a demonstration to show that Alex understood how sounds are used to build words - anticipatory co-articulation.)
"Want a nut." Alex was obviously getting a little more than frustrated. he finally got very slitty-eyed, always a sign he was up to something. He looked at me and said slowly, "Want a nut. Nnn … uh … tuh."
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This story of Alex, a famous African Grey parrot, documents his thirty-year relationship with his trainer and the ways in which his life has changed scientific understanding about language and thought.

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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