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

Extended Audio Sample 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 Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (2,772 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Irene Pepperberg Narrator: Julia Gibson Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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On September 6, 2007, an African Grey parrot named Alex died prematurely at age thirty-one. 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 thirty 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 thirty-year adventure is equally a landmark of scientific achievement and of an unforgettable human-animal bond.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Everybody who loves animals should read this book. Irene Pepperberg has done pioneering work on communication between people and animals. Alex has proved to the world that birds are much smarter than people think.”

    Temple Grandin, New York Times bestselling author of Animals in Translation

  • “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

  • “[Pepperberg’s] book movingly combines the scientific detail of a researcher...with the affectionate understanding that children instinctively possess.”  

    New York Times

  • “Everyone loves a love story, especially if it involves an animal...Readers interested in how a scientist methodically goes about gathering data will find Alex & Me an intriguing look behind the scenes. But readers who are looking for a touching little love story get the better deal here. Even a cold-hearted birdbrain might find himself tearing up when the end finally comes.”

    USA Today

  • “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 thirty-one in 2007. Irresistible.” 


  • Alex & Me may bring you to tears...but it will also charm and amaze you.”

    Christian Science Monitor

  • Alex & Me is a wonderful read about the close and enduring bonds that developed between a very bright bird and a very motivated researcher during a long-term collaboration...Irene Pepperberg humanizes science, and her dear friend Alex shows that being called a birdbrain is indeed a compliment of the highest order.”

    Marc Bekoff, author of The Emotional Lives of Animals, Animals Matter, and Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals

  • “This is a brave book...I was fascinated to read the anecdotes about the intellectual capacity of parents, but the best part of Alex & Me is the story of their friendship.”

    Mark Bittner, author of The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill

  • “A wonderful, touching love story that combines humor, history, intimacy, philosophy, and ground-breaking science; a thoroughly delightful read about the thirty-year relationship of Irene and Alex.”

    Joanna Burger, author of The Parrot Who Owns Me

  • “Sometimes a single individual changes the world, even if it is a parrot. Together with his tutor, Irene Pepperberg, Alex systematically destroyed the notion—the way he destroyed so many other things—that all birds can do is mimic human language. Alex clearly has a mind of his own, and a heart to match, as explained in this touching account of scientific perseverance and mutual attachment. Our notion of what a bird is has forever been changed.”

    Frans de Waal, author of Our Inner Ape

  • “This book...is a moving tribute that beautifully evokes the struggles, the initial triumphs, the setbacks, the unexpected and often stunning achievements during a groundbreaking scientific endeavor...Pepperberg deftly interweaves her own personal narrative—including her struggles to gain recognition for her research—with more intimate scenes of life with Alex than she was able to present in her earlier work, creating a story that scientists and laypeople can equally enjoy, if they can all keep from crying over Alex’s untimely death.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “In this highly readable, anecdotal book, Pepperberg describes the training techniques she and her assistants used with Alex, the breakthroughs he made, and his growing fame as word began to spread about the brainy parrot who could differentiate colors, count, and describe objects accurately and in human language.”


  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • Winner of the Christopher Award

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Erin Baker | 2/20/2014

    " An interesting and sweet book. A good book for animal lovers. I had a copy... wish I would have kept it. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Jennifer | 2/16/2014

    " Marley and Me for the avian set. An intriguing linguistic and behavioral study, but the presentation is somewhat marred by the weakness and repetition of Pepperberg's writing. Which is not going to keep you from weeping like a little girl at Alex's inevitable, Newberry-Medal-winning style demise. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Brian | 1/17/2014

    " A change from fiction... a feel good book about a bird. Makes me wonder about animal intelligence. It also made me want to bond to Alex, just from reading! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Sarah | 1/15/2014

    " I knew someone who worked with Irene Pepperberg, and so it's possible that her judgment clouded my reading of this book. I'm glad that Irene Pepperberg has done the work that she's done, and it was interesting to read her story - but I felt like she wasn't really being *honest*. "

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