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 Pepperberg
(Harper Perennial, Paperback, 9780061673986, 288pp.)
Publication Date: September 2009
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"You be good. I love you," were Alex's final words to his owner, research scientist Irene Pepperberg, before his premature death at age thirty-one on September 6, 2007. An African Grey parrot, Alex had a brain the size of a shelled walnut, yet he could add, sound out words, understand concepts like bigger, smaller, more, fewer, and none, and he disproved the widely accepted idea that birds possess no potential for language or anything remotely comparable to human intelligence. Alex & Me is the remarkable true account of an amazing, irascible parrot and his best friend who stayed together through thick and thin for thirty yearsthe astonishing, moving, and unforgettable story of a landmark scientific achievement and a beautiful relationship.
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.
Alex the African gray parrot could do more than speak and understand he could also count, identify colors and develop an emotional relationship. When Alex died in September 2007, his last words to scientist Irene Pepperberg were "You be good. I love you." More at NPR.org
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“[Pepperberg’s] book movingly combines the scientific detail of a researcher...with the affectionate understanding that children instinctively possess....”
-Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
“To anyone who’s dreamed of talking with the animals, Dr. Doolittle style, Alex was a revelation…This ornery reviewer tried to resist Alex’s charms on principle. But his achievements got the better of me…Alex was a celebrity, and this book will surely please his legions of fans.”
-New York Times Book Review
“A moving tribute that beautifully evokes ‘the struggles, the initial triumphs, the setbacks, the unexpected and often stunning achievements’ during a grounbreaking scientific endeavor...”
“A fascinating look at animal intelligence, Pepperberg’s tale is also a love story between beings who sometimes ‘squabble like an old married couple’ but whose bond broke only with Alex’s death at 31 in ‘07. Irresistible.”