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Bonobo Handshake: A Memoir of Love and…

Bonobo Handshake: A Memoir of Love and Adventure in the Congo (edition 2010)

by Vanessa Woods

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1821897,510 (3.89)23
Title:Bonobo Handshake: A Memoir of Love and Adventure in the Congo
Authors:Vanessa Woods
Info:Gotham (2010), Edition: Complete Numbers Starting with 1, 1st Ed, Hardcover, 278 pages
Collections:Your library

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Bonobo Handshake: A Memoir of Love and Adventure in the Congo by Vanessa Woods


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Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
This memoir was well written withal distinctive voice and surprisingly wide range of topics. I enjoyed the rumination on what makes us human, I teared up when I was supposed to, and appreciated the history of the Congo. The last chapters felt a bit preachy but I am in wholehearted agreement with her on issues of extreme poverty. ( )
  Jackie_Sassa | Nov 20, 2015 |
The author was young and didn't really know what she wanted to do with herself beyond have adventures. She met her fiancee, Brian, at a chimpanzee sanctuary and he convinced her to come with him to Congo to do some research on bonobos, a type of chimp. The book includes memoir of her and Brian + info about both chimps and bonobos + info on Congo and the political upheaval that has gone on there throughout its history.

I really enjoyed this. I love reading/learning about animals, and I have an undergraduate degree in anthropology (cultural, but I also took some primate classes). The Congo info was interesting, as well. Being a neighbour to Rwanda, much of the Tutsi/Hutu genocide carried over into Congo, as well. I will say, though, that I wasn't crazy about the author, herself - I didn't like her much. However, I still really enjoyed the book. ( )
  LibraryCin | Dec 12, 2014 |
Amazing story about the lesser known relative of the chimpanzee, the bonobos. BEYOND fascinating and extremely informative! Thanks to Vanessa Woods wonderful book I now know about these fantastic creatures and their struggle to survive in the wild. They only live in one country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and their numbers are declining due to human threats such as hunting and poaching. The adults are killed and then sold on the black markets for bush meat and the orphaned young are sold as pets. The bonobo is highly endangered and facing possible extinction.

Vanessa Woods accompanied her fiance to the Congo to study the differences between chimps and bonobos. Unlike chimps, bonobos are a peaceful great ape and are highly cooperative. Bonobos are sexually active creatures and often sex serves to promote bonding, reduce tensions, and share pleasure. Bonobo Handshake is a story that begins as a scientific study but transforms into a love story, an eye opener, valuable lessons learned and the journey towards healing and understanding.

This book does NOT read like some scientific journal. It is an amazing, gripping true story about an ape that is so much like ourselves, sharing more than 98% of our DNA. It is the true story about a country in complete turmoil. It is the true story about an Africa that is losing it's greatest assets to war and rebel soldiers. Had I not picked up this book I would have never known that by 2009, the death toll could be estimated at 5.9 million. BH has definitely opened my eyes to the wonders of nature and the cruelty of man. I reached the last page with tears in my eyes. I hope the beautiful bonobos will forever have a safe haven at Lola Ya Bonobo. ( )
  MaryEvelynLS | Jun 1, 2014 |
Was I the only one who did not know what a bonobo was? Apparently not, spell check just underlined it! This book is a great mixture of science, history and memoir and made me a lover of these primates. Highly recommended. ( )
  lindap69 | Apr 5, 2013 |
I won this book through First Reads and I really tried to like it. But I'm afraid it is going to go on my 'not finished' list. It really isn't a TERRIBLE book, and after reading about half the book, I CAN say I learned something about both Chimps and Bonobos. I also learned quite a bit about the Congo and the politics there. But I feel like the author had a lot more fun writing and reminiscing than I am in reading this book. I DO plan to finish it at some point, and if I change my mind, I will edit my review. But for now, I can only say "It's OK". ( )
  Time2Read2 | Mar 31, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
Woods was an Australian primate lover, flitting from job to job while she tried to decide what to do with her life. Brian Hare was a newly minted American PhD. They met at a chimpanzee sanctuary in Uganda, fell in love, and a year later were on a plane to the Democratic Republic of Congo, which had suffered a decade-long war, fought over its vast resources of diamonds, gold, cobalt, and other minerals, and in which more than five million died. The human suffering had fostered a rise in the bush-meat trade, and one of the prime targets was bonobos, the “other” chimpanzee. The story of Woods’ and Hare’s research at the only bonobo sanctuary in the world mixes the intimacy of memoir with the science of behavioral research. As Woods comes to know her new husband, she also begins to know the resident bonobos. Bonobos share, use sex to settle arguments, and possess almost 99 percent of our DNA. This mostly joyous book is not afraid to talk about the terrible recent history of the Congo, but ultimately it comes down on the side of hope—for the Congo and the bonobos. --
From Publishers Weekly
Devoted to learning more about bonobos, a smaller, more peaceable species of primate than chimpanzees, and lesser known, Australian journalist Woods and her fiancé, scientist Brian Hare, conducted research in the bonobos' only known habitat—civil war–torn Congo. Woods's plainspoken, unadorned account traces the couple's work at Lola Ya Bonobo Sanctuary, located outside Kinshasa in the 75-acre forested grounds of what was once Congo dictator Mobutu Sese Seko's weekend retreat. The sanctuary, founded in 1994 and run by French activist Claudine André, served as an orphanage for baby bonobos, left for dead after their parents had been hunted for bush meat; the sanctuary healed and nurtured them (assigning each a human caretaker called a mama), with the aim of reintroducing the animals to the wild. Hare had only previously conducted research on the more warlike, male-dominated chimpanzee, and needed Woods because she spoke French and won the animals' trust; through their daily work, the couple witnessed with astonishment how the matriarchal bonobo society cooperated nicely using frequent sex, and could even inspire human behavior. When Woods describes her daily interaction with the bonobos, her account takes on a warm charm. Woods's personable, accessible work about bonobos elucidates the marvelous intelligence and tolerance of this gentle cousin to humans. (Apr.)
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In Congo, the war has ended
Oh, my friend,
Why then from the forest
Do they flood our nursery?
At Lola
At Lola ya Bonobo
It is their paradise
Kikwit and Lomami, how do you climb trees
Without the fingers the witch doctors severed?
Kikongo and Lomela, how can you forget
The pain and suffering?
At Lola
At Lola ya Bonobos
It is their paradise

- Song By The Mamas, Lola Ya Bonobo
For Malou
First words
It's 2:17 A.M. in a Paris hotel room and my sweat is bleeding into the sheets.
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Book description
Bonobo Handshake
A young woman follows her fiancé to war-torn Congo to study extremely endangered bonobo apes—who teach her a new truth about love and belonging

In 2005, Vanessa Woods accepted a marriage proposal from a man she barely knew and agreed to join him on a research trip to the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo. Settling in at a bonobo sanctuary in Congo’s capital, Vanessa and her fiancé entered the world of a rare ape with whom we share 98.7% of our DNA. Vanessa soon discovered that bonobos live in a peaceful society in which females are in charge, war is nonexistent, and sex is as common and friendly as a handshake.

A fascinating memoir of hope and adventure, Bonobo Handshake traces Vanessa’s self-discovery as she finds herself falling deeply in love with her husband, the apes, and her new surroundings. Courageous and extraordinary, Almost French meets The Poisonwood Bible in this true story of revelation and transformation in a fragile corner of Africa.
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Traces how a Discovery Channel writer and her scientist fiance settled in a Bonobo sanctuary in war-torn Congo, where their research enabled greater understanding of the characteristics and largely peaceful culture of the rare ape that shares 98.7 percent of human DNA.… (more)

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