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The Parrots Lament (Thorndike Core) [Large Print] [Hardcover]

Eugene Linden
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Jun 2000 Thorndike Core
A gorilla shrewdly sells back a missing key chain to the highest bidder. An orangutan picks a lock to let himself out of his zoo enclosure and two elephants adopt a tag-team strategy to keep their handlers from putting them back into theirs. In The Parrot's Lament, noted environmentalist Eugene Linden offers more than one hundred true anecdotes about animal acts of cooperation, heroism, escape -- even tales of deception or manipulation of human beings. Drawing on the first-person experiences of veterinarians, field biologists, researchers, and trainers, Linden has compiled a warmly entertaining and powerfully persuasive argument for animal consciousness that, while not human, far exceeds what humans usually grant animals. Scientifically sound and emotionally compelling, The Parrot's Lament contains remarkable stories that are sure to resonate with animal lovers, turning skeptics everywhere into believers.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 255 pages
  • Publisher: Thorndike Press; Lrg edition (Jun 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0783890311
  • ISBN-13: 978-0783890319
  • Product Dimensions: 23.9 x 16.1 x 2.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,252,548 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Mr. Linden's subject matter is interesting enough -- the consciousness of animals -- but it is his writing that carries this book. His breezy style brings a page turning quality, as he explains difficult scientific concepts in a manner that is immediately accessible to all. This is a book that will force a challenge to those who would suggest that only humans live in the realm of consciousness. It wouldn't surprise me if the radical religious right turned this book into a lightening rod for their disapproval. Makes you wonder what is next for animal intelligence -- perhaps a monkey will write the next book, or at least be at the seat next to you in your next poker game!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Monkeys are smarter! 3 Sep 1999
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Fantastic! We humans think we are so smart; well guess what, the four legged kingdoms aren't so far behind and are even ahead. This book is a delightful read, with pleasant prose and artful anecdotes. I took the intelligence of monkeys and other animals for granted, but I now know that chimps can easily beat me at poker. I am only halfway through Linden's matsterful stories and don't want them to end.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars DECEIVING TITLE 4 Jun 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
THE BOOK IS MAINLY ABOUT PRIMATES AND THEIR INTELLEGENCE....
FAILS TO RECOGNISE THE MUCH MORE ADVANCED INTELLEGENCE OF PARROTS AND SOME OTHER BIRDS, ESPECAILLY PARROTS, NOT ONLY DUE TO THEIR KEEN DESIRE TO LEARN COGNITIVE SPEECH BUT BECAUSE THEY ARE SO QUICK TO GRASP THINGS WHETHER IT'S DISMANTLING THEIR CAGE OR WORKING THE MICROWAVE TO HEAT THEIR LUNCH. THEY DON'T REQUIRE REPETITIVE TEACHING STRATAGIES AND FOOD REWARDS THEY DESIRE TO LEARN
THERE ARE A COUPLE OF SHORT STORIES INVOLVING KILLER WHALES AND DOLPHINS.
I'M GIVING IT 1 STAR BECAUSE I SPENT MONEY ON THIS BOOK BELEIVING THERE WOULD BE MAINLY STORIES ABOUT PARROTS WITH OTHER STORIES REGARDING DIFFERENT ANIMALS
THERE HAVE BEEN SO MANY BOOKS WRITTEN ABOUT PRIMATES I WOULD HAVE SEARCHED FOR ONE OF THESE BOOKS IF I HAD WANTED TO BUY ONE
JAN
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  33 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking, funny and touching 24 Aug 2000
By C. Healy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
It's very obvious which side of the fence the author stands on in the debate over animal intelligence, but Linden never gets preachy about his theories. Instead he presents a collection of fascinating anecdotes and lets the evidence speak for itself. That's not to say he doesn't provide any scientific insight into the stories he's telling; he does, and from both sides of the argument. But this book is not about proselytizing, it merely wants to spin some tales about animals that are at times humorous (I laughed out loud several times), at times sweet and touching, and always thought-provoking. It succeeds in its goal. I couldn't help but feel for the killer whale who grieved after giving his pregnant mate a "sonogram" and discovering she'd miscarried, or laugh at the parrot who invited a wild bird inside for dinner, or secretly cheer on the orangutan escape artists who foiled their keepers at every turn. Mostly I couldn't help but marvel at the awareness and intellect that can be seen in all of these stories. Even being an animal lover to begin with, my next visit to a zoo will carry with it a whole new respect for the animals within.
26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Pleasant, even moving, but very lightweight 27 Jan 2000
By David J. Loftus - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Linden gathers anecdotes from zoo keepers, pet owners, game preserve employees, and primate researchers to suggest the range and depth of animals' ability to plan, reason, invent and employ tools, and empathize or form relationships with unfamiliar and even traditionally hostile species.
Some of the tales are highly amusing, terribly moving, or almost unbelievable. In the first category is the parrot's lament of the title, in which a female African grey bemoaned the fate of a male she did not like when her owner pulled a Cornish game hen out of the oven, and then grieved again when the owner showed her the male was still alive. As an example of the second, I think of the male orca who appeared to be monitoring his mate's pregnancy by placing his head against her tummy, and then battered his head against the edge of their Marineland pool in frustration shortly before she miscarried. Or the great ape that rescued a human infant that fell into its zoo enclosure.
Unbelievable are the many stories of orangutan ingenuity in escaping their zoo cages and yards, or the friendship between the wild turkey and the retired race horse.
I wanted to like this book more than I ended up doing. The issue of animal intelligence is an important and fascinating one, but I wish Linden had delved deeper into the philosophical and scientific implications. The anecdotes fly by with very little discussion. This approach was done better (and with remarkably little overlap in stories) a few years back by Susan McCarthy and Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson in _When Elephants Weep: the emotional lives of animals_; granted, their subject was more specifically emotions rather than cognition, but I found it a more thoughtful book.
In addition, though _The Parrot's Lament_ is competently written, I found its phrasing a little inelegant at times. I recorded it aloud for a broadcast service for the blind and elderly shut-ins ("Golden Hours" at KOPB in Portland, Oregon), and found myself stumbling over the verbiage more often than usual.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining tales of animal behavior 5 Mar 2002
By Atheen M. Wilson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Eugene Linden's "Parrot's Lament" is a charming collection of animal anecdotes. The author's intent is to show that the human being is not the only animal that demonstrates mental and communicative abilities. He avoids the contention which surrounds scientific debates on the issues by simply recounting stories from his own experiences and from those of zoo keepers and naturalists, people whose only interest is in the animals they care for and not in scientific laurels or criticism. The only caveat, as he himself points out, is that because "it's unscientific...no matter how persuasive the material, one cannot use the stories and examples as proof of anything (p. xvii)." For those of us who are already convinced that animals are far brighter than most people give them credit for, this is not an important issue anyway.
The book is divided into sections, including: games and humor; trade and barter; deception, mind reading and mental chess; cooperation in work, conflict and healing; tools and intelligence; escapes from captivity; empathy and heroism; and untouched nature. Some of the material is repeated under different chapters, but when it is, it's presented from a new perspective which enlarges understanding of animal behavior. My favorite stories are some of the orangutan escape episodes, and some of the tales of trust and friendship.
The book certainly gives the reader a sense of what is being lost as our natural world is being destroyed by overpopulation, encroachment and exploitation. Since destruction of habitat seems to have taken on a life of its own these days, one almost wonders if it is unstoppable irrespective of our best intentions or of the ultimate negative impact it will have on our own future. This was particularly apparent in the last chapter of the book which deals with the Ndoki rain forest of the Congo. As was pointed out in Matt Ridley's book, The Red Queen, the incremental increase in benefit to the individual who causes the destruction of the environment increases the likelihood that the destruction will occur despite the overall long term loss to society. And this is often so, even though the individual beneficiary of the immediate good will also suffer with the rest of society. The loss of viable commonly held fields to over grazing during the Middle Ages was the example cited by Ridley (p. 91), but any other major loss of shared wealth could be substituted as well. As Linden points out, perhaps the very intellect of which we are so proud will be our ultimate undoing! We certainly don't seem to have learned from the lessons of our history!
Altogether a delightfully readable book.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Winner 5 Dec 1999
By Belina Mejias - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I have been reading popular science books for an assignment in school and already reported on two others I really enjoyed-- Ants at Work and Nabokov's Blues. This was the third book I read and it was fascinating. I have two pets at home and have always had the feeling they were smarter than, just...animals. Mr. Lindens accounts are wonderful and make we wonder how he was able to track down so many incredible and insightful tales. My science teacher recommended each of these books. It was wonderful to learn more about butterflies, and science in general (even how scientists fight among themselves) in the Nabokov's Blues book, and the fascinating world of ants in Ants at Work. Yet, Parrot's Lament was even closer to home, not only because of the question of animal intelligence and ingenuity but it rekindling the sense of this I'd always had in animals anyway. Thanks Mr. Linden for a great Thanksgiving vacation read! Each of these books is great but since I can see you've written several I think you know where I'll be going for my Christmas reading project!
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Witty and fulfilling 13 Mar 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I enjoyed this book of anecdotes about animals behaving in smart, original, creative, and sometimes heroic ways. It was written in a very accessible style, and I enjoyed the author's sense of humor. The book was well-divided into sections: games and humor; trade and barter; deception; mind reading and mental chess; cooperation in work, conflict and healing; tools and intelligence; escapes; empathy and heroism; and a place where humans are the novelty. I would've liked to have read more about the last section, about animals who have no fear of humans in a virtually untouched jungle in Africa. The only thing that puzzled me about the book was the rather apologetic tone regarding animal intelligence. The tone tries to pacify scientists and other people who aren't convinced that animals possess intelligence. I have never doubted that they do. I'm sure most people who have pets or work around animals feel the same way. It's too bad that we have to be apologetic about believing that the important life forms that share our planet have the capacity to think and feel. As the author points out in the last chapter, based on what we're doing to the planet, it's sometimes questionable which species is really the one without intelligence.
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