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Download Bonobo Handshake: A Memoir of Love and Adventure in the Congo Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Bonobo Handshake: A Memoir of Love and Adventure in the Congo Audiobook, by Vanessa Woods Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (775 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Vanessa Woods Narrator: Justine Eyre Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: May 2010 ISBN: 9781400187454
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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 Democratic Republic of Congo, a country reeling from a brutal decade-long war that had claimed the lives of millions. Settling in at a bonobo sanctuary in Congo's capital, Vanessa and her fiance entered the world of a rare ape with whom we share 98.7 percent of our DNA. She soon discovered that many of the inhabitants of the sanctuary-ape and human alike-are refugees from unspeakable violence, yet 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 Woods's self-discovery as she finds herself falling deeply in love with her husband, the apes, and her new surroundings while probing life's greatest question: What ultimately makes us human? Courageous and extraordinary, this true story of revelation and transformation in a fragile corner of Africa is about looking past the differences between animals and ourselves, and finding in them the same extraordinary courage and will to survive. For Vanessa, it is about finding her own path as a writer and scientist, falling in love, and finding a home. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • Don't think that this is just a book about apes. It's a love story, an adventure story, and a political education about a country that has seen more tragedy and inhumanity than you can imagine. Adam Hochschild, author of King Leopold's Ghost
  • “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.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Don’t think that this is just a book about apes. It’s a love story, an adventure story, and a political education about a country that has seen more tragedy and inhumanity than you can imagine.”

    Adam Hochschild, author of King Leopold’s Ghost

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Margo Tanenbaum | 2/3/2014

    " This is an extraordinary book--a combination memoir, animal behavior book, and book about African politics rolled into one amazing story of a young woman who marries a primate researcher and finds herself living in the Congo at a bonobo reserve. She writes with unusual humor, pathos, and good sense about bonobos (a close relative of both humans and chimpanzees but a separate species)and how they help us understand what makes us human. The contrast between the loving, peaceful society of the bonobos and the horrible atrocities committed in the Congo is part of what makes this book so compelling. It's one not only for animal lovers--although if you are an animal lover you will want to be on the next plane to the Congo to visit these endearing creatures. It's a book that's a terrific read for anyone interested in human nature. Highly recommended. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ron Davidson | 1/24/2014

    " In a review of another book, I wrote that I'm a sucker for chimpanzee stories. Now I'm a bigger sucker for bonobo stories after reading this book, a fascinating story about something I knew very little about. The author is clearly passionate about her subjects -- which include more than just bonobos. She speaks with great compassion of the Congolese people, who suffered greatly in the most devastating war since World War II. (How many Americans have even heard of this war?) And she successfully integrates her personal story into the greater narrative of this book. (I was leery of the book before I started, because of the mention of a "love story" in the publisher's blurb.) How can bonobos teach humans about altruism and compassion? Can we save the bonobos and ourselves? Vanessa Woods gives us a moving story of important but neglected subjects. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jean Cable | 1/11/2014

    " Interesting but a little too much about the Congo civil wars for me. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Raychel | 1/10/2014

    " A compelling story full of love, adventure and loss. Vanessa Woods is incredibly honest, even about the things that nobody wants to admit about themselves. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Eden | 1/3/2014

    " A dissapointing memoir of the author's experiences in the Congo helping her husband study bonobos. Self-indulgent and lacking in freshness. Poor prose. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ellen Quigley | 12/31/2013

    " this is an incredible, and inspiring book that I would recommend to any adult that is at all interested in animals. My cousin bought this book and left it for me to read and I am so glad and grateful to her that she did. this is a life changing book. Thanks Keely! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Connie | 12/29/2013

    " Interesting book. Not only about Bonobos but gives you history about Congo and war that has ravaged their homeland. Wereas we all thinks only of chimps when we think monkeys Bonobos are special in that they are peaceful creatures. I think we all could learn something from them. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sarah | 12/24/2013

    " Be warned--many horrible tales of war, rape, and mutilation. Great book, though, and makes you fall under the spell of bonobos. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Karen | 12/16/2013

    " More detail about the real lives of the Bonobo apes depicted in Sara Gruen's "Ape House." "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Christine | 11/9/2013

    " There are few things I didn't know about bonobos and chimpanzees. She compared those two species. If you toss one of them in the air like you do with a young kid, a bonobo would be relaxed but a chimpanzee would be very anxious and would cling to the human. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Peggy Matheson | 9/7/2013

    " Very interesting but just be warned-lots of monkey sex. The political history of the Congo is sad to read but something we should be more aware of. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jessi_4 | 5/27/2013

    " Loved it!! I didn't know much about bonobos before this book. It taught a lot without being a text book. And I loved that the bonobos are real and you can look them up online and see what those specific bonobos are doing right now. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bookchick | 1/6/2013

    " Enjoyed learning about these not-well-known primates and about the (sadly) violent history and politics of the Congo. Woods' overall emotional immaturity was sometimes wearying but her commitment to the animals is ultimately admirable. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Michelle Commeyras | 11/8/2012

    " In my next life I want to be a Bonobo! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mary Dickey | 5/20/2012

    " I knew very little about these amazing primates. This book filled me in. A nice memoir "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sara | 4/8/2012

    " a good account, a bit whiney. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nora | 3/31/2012

    " I really liked this book not because it was the best written book but because of the subject matter. I enjoyed learning about bonobos weaved in with a short history of the conflicts in Congo. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tracy | 3/10/2012

    " Beautiful and touching, a book full of insight into the Congo and insight into our animal cousins. Recommended highly! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Hannah | 8/24/2011

    " Animal behavior, human relationships, and the crisis in the Congo. It was amusing and heartbreaking. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Julie | 7/6/2011

    " Like most people I had never heard of the Bonobos, I am so glad I found this remarkable book. Such a inspiring, heartwarming, educational, tear jerker story, loved it! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Renu | 5/20/2011

    " I thought it was a very interesting read. Has made me very curious about primate intelligence and behaviour. Gives a great insight into the turmoil in Congo. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Shazia | 4/23/2011

    " Sweet, Sad, horrifying, a political education, and chuckle out loud funny- very emotional. A great Bonobo awareness book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Julie | 3/9/2011

    " I want more bonobo story and less history of Congo. But a little bonobo is better than no bonobo! And I definitely understand how the Congo story impacts bonobos, but I doubt I'll get to interact with any bonobos so I want to hear all about it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amy | 2/26/2011

    " Interesting information about the differences between chimps and bonobos, and about a sanctuary for orphaned bonobos. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Carol | 2/15/2011

    " Being a monkey lover I was very interested in the topic. Amazing to me that so little is known about the bonobos as compared to chimps. Hard to read about the continuing wars in the Congo and their awful toll on both human and animal life. Thought provoking book that I enjoyed. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Abbe | 1/27/2011

    " This was a weird book, but I really enjoyed it. It was kind of scattered, going between politics and war stories to learning about the Bonobos and differences between them, chimpanzees and humans. It was very interesting, and makes me sad that we know so little about the turmoil in the Congo. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Hannah | 1/27/2011

    " Animal behavior, human relationships, and the crisis in the Congo. It was amusing and heartbreaking. "

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About the Author
Author Vanessa Woods

Vanessa Woods is a research scientist, journalist, and author of children’s books. A member of the Hominoid Psychology Research Group, she works with Duke University as well as Lola Ya Bonobo in Congo. She is also a feature writer for the Discovery Channel, and her writing has appeared in such publications as BBC Wildlife and Travel Africa. Her first book is It’s Every Monkey for Themselves. She lives in North Carolina.

About the Narrator

Justine Eyre is a classically trained actress who has narrated dozens of audiobooks and has a prestigious Audie Award and two AudioFile Earphones Awards under her belt. Eyre is multilingual and known for her great facility with accents. She has appeared on stage, with leading roles in King Lear and The Crucible, and has had starring roles in four films on the indie circuit. Her recent television credits include Two and a Half Men and Mad Men.