Regular price: $21.67

Membership details Membership details
  • A 30-day trial plus your first audiobook, free.
  • 1 credit/month after trial – good for any book, any price.
  • Easy exchanges – swap any book you don’t love.
  • Keep your audiobooks, even if you cancel.
  • After your trial, Audible is just $14.95/month.
OR
In Cart

Editorial Reviews

After 30 years of language research using her pet parrot, Alex, as the principal subject, Dr. Pepperberg contends that her bird's level of comprehension equaled that of chimps and dolphins. Although her work and conclusions have not been widely accepted, she provides enough data from her records for listeners to evaluate her methods and decide for themselves. Narrator Julia Gibson chooses a diminutive voice as her rendition of the author speaking, maybe because she wants to emphasize the warm relationship of owner and pet more than the rigorous science of the story. Gibson makes no attempt to imitate Alex as he works on his lessons, missing a precious opportunity for characterization.

Publisher's Summary

On September 6, 2007, an African Grey parrot named Alex died prematurely at age 31. 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 30 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 30-year adventure is equally a landmark of scientific achievement and of an unforgettable human-animal bond.

©2008 Irene M. Pepperberg (P)2008 HarperCollins Publishers

More from the same

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    161
  • 4 Stars
    75
  • 3 Stars
    35
  • 2 Stars
    8
  • 1 Stars
    3

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    118
  • 4 Stars
    49
  • 3 Stars
    15
  • 2 Stars
    6
  • 1 Stars
    0

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    128
  • 4 Stars
    36
  • 3 Stars
    18
  • 2 Stars
    5
  • 1 Stars
    0
Sort by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

What a Bird!

I'm a bird lover and I am constantly amazed by what birds are capable of doing. I think I went into the book knowing quite a bit about the story up front. I watched the TV programs about Alex, saw a variety of Utube videos and had read several articles about this subject. So maybe that's why the book felt a bit repetitive. When I finished listening I had the feeling that I wanted to know more about Alex the bird and the other birds the author had worked with. The story was amazing--but in some ways incomplete. All in all, concerns aside, a fascinating book for bird lovers.

28 of 29 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Ariel
  • Austin, TX, United States
  • 11-23-11

Great science story but not a great book

Okay, Alex and Dr. Pepperberg are a story that everyone should know. With creative, intuitively-devised methodology, Irene was able to shatter ideas of animal intelligence. Alex's accomplishments are the kind of jaw-dropping items you'll find yourself sharing with friends and family. I have the highest respect for their work and wish they were even more widely known than they are.

The thing is, you could learn just about as much watching some YouTube videos and listening to some interviews with Dr. Pepperberg (FreshAir has a great one). The book is padded with a lot of biographical information that I just didn't find that compelling and the real insights could be related in one hour rather than nearly six. The reading was adequate but the writing is just not that compelling and there's not enough science here to keep my interest.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Sanni
  • Numminen, Finland
  • 01-24-12

Pepperperg's memoir

A little bit self repeating story. I expected more about the actual studies. Anyway, nice to learn something new about the pioneer of animal cognition research.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Gillian
  • Austin, TX, United States
  • 06-05-17

The Cognitive Studies Of A Remarkable Bird

Don't expect warm and mushy from "Alex & Me" as Pepperberg goes to great lengths to state that she made it her duty to keep distance from Alex. There are relatively few precious scenes about their relationship; most the book is the chronicling of the many studies which prove that gray parrots, Alex in particular, are sentient beings with an astounding ability to learn and relate/commune with another species, our own.
There is indeed, however, a good deal of genuine caring, of true respect between the two and it is clear that there was a strong bond between them. Pepperberg would go as far as bringing Alex to her home during down time, that is until he spotted two predatory owls outside the window. Despite Irene closing the curtains, Alex could not be comforted, proving that, despite the prevailing scientific thought at the time, even though he couldn't see them anymore, to him the owls still existed.
It's a fascinating book, pretty funny at times, and ultimately heartbreaking at the end. The studies may still go on, but with this book, at least the memory of Alex goes on too.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Roy
  • Beaumont, TX, United States
  • 02-28-09

Bird Lovers Unite!

This is a wonderful book about the African Gray that could do more than we every imagined. It is also the first person story about the researcher who owned the Gray and difficulties (politically and otherwise) of sustaining research in this needy area of study. The book is read very well, the audio is wonderful, and the story is entertaining as well as informative. If you don't have any interest in animal or ornithological cognition, listen to this book anyway for the story line. You will come away amazed at life around us and the creatures that enhabit our world. I am now convinced that those who believe there is a God have no more problems than those who believe there is none. This Gray has shown us more than we are ready to accept - even still.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

wonderful book, emotionally and intellectually.

my husband and I loved listening to this tale of an emotional and intellectual bond between a parrot and a scientist. good for the mind, sweet to the ears.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Didn't like

You are perfect for your bird. I was underwhelmed with your story. I didn't like,your story.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Med
  • Milwaukee
  • 03-11-18

A terrific story for any animal lover

This story will amaze and fascinate you. I recommend listening to this story if you can.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Grateful she never gave up

I watched the world change with this bird - cant wait till people figure out that spoken language or not - Animals are sentient - and they deserve just a bit more understanding if their experience as out partners

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Much better than expected!

Loved every single bit of it! An amazing true story. I recommend it to anyone.