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on 22 June 2011
This is an interesting and informative book on a very interesting and vitally important subject. It is good to have such a wide survey of the 'men of the forest' and the people who have worked and are working with them, in my case all the more because I myself recently spent a week in Tanjung Puting, Indonesia, their surest stronghold, observing these apes.
I normally have no problems with anthropomorphism. You only have to spend time with your pet animals to know that they do have feelings and can work things out to a certain extent. How much more so one of our closest relatives. And indeed, I had the distinct impression - while having no way of knowing - that the orang-utans I saw played to the crowd sometimes, as they made the connection between us and the food they were brought. But this author and his informants really overdo it. For example, rather than say 'It was as if his eyes were saying...', they say 'His eyes told me that he was thinking...'. You'd scarcely dare say that for sure of a fellow human being!
This, plus a rather mystical, romantic style of writing, and at times a poor one (the author is apparently a professor of journalism - at a university ranked 1412th worldwide) will not gain any converts amongst some of those he is setting out to win over; the rest of us are on his side already.
Two specific comments. What the heck was he doing taking a professional horn player to play to the orang-utans, if he wanted a flute to be played? Ludicrous experiment anyway and no conclusions drawn from it in the event it seems.
And how frustrating not to be told whether Princess (whom I saw in Tanjung Puting) passed on her learnt sign language to her offspring. Did he even think to ask?
Frankly this is a rather amateur, unscientific book, but nevertheless an essential read, since apparently there is nothing else which covers this subject.
Three stars for writing style and content + five stars for importance of subject = four star rating.
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on 9 May 2010
The orangutan is fast disappearing, its forests eaten up by our voracious appetite for land and timber. Only tens of thousands survive in the wild, and we are discovering the amazing intelligence of this great ape just as it seems poised on the verge of extinction. This is a remarkable book that not only looks at the orangutan but at the unusual individuals who have dedicated their lives to their study and protection - people like John MacKinnon, who "became part of the forests of Borneo and Sumatra... slept in the jungle and wrote about the hum of frogs and crickets". People like Willie Smits - the man who has regrown rainforest from nothing to house the orangutans he rescued. People like Birut' Galdikas, "our Lady of the Forests", who first brought reports to the world of the real nature of the orangutan. Thompson tracks them down, gets through the barriers, gets under their skins. Reading "The Intimate Ape" I felt that I knew people better, not just in the tragic destruction of the greedy, but also in the selfless and scientific devotion - the strengths and the weeknesses - of those that care about these close cousins of ours. Shawn Thompson keeps it personal, sharing his own reflections as he travels slowly upstream in Borneo, with illegally logged timber floating down past him. He takes a good photo too, and the book has a well-chosen selection. Highly recommended, of course, for anyone interested in really knowing more abut the work of saving the orangutan and its rich forests, but also for anyone who wants a well-written and insightful read about what is happening in an unwatched corner of our world.
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on 28 August 2010
I felt a mixture of emotions as I read Shawn Thompson's book, sadness at the plight of the orangutans, happiness for the dedication of the scientists and volunteers who help them; knowing that there are people who care about them; and hope for the future of the orangutan, that the big companies will see sense and stop ruining their habitat before it is too late. This book really shows you the reality of the situation. Shawn meets the people who will never give up on the orangutan, extremely dedicated people. At the end of the book, Shawn gives us information on how we can help the orangutan by being careful about the products we buy. Well written, easy to read book.
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on 18 May 2010
A non scientific approach to understanding more about the emotions and intelligence of the orangutan. The book is easy to read and is not aimed at zoologists or other animal experts, but is ideally suited to a wider public. I would have enjoyed having more detailed info about the studies carried out to learn more about this primate, but the book gives a wider insight into the many different people who have for many years fought to save this animal and for that alone, makes it worth reading. Make sure you have enough time to read it in large chunks as the book draws you in and you do not want to stop turning the pages. There are not many photos, so if you are looking for a coffee table book on orangutans, this is not it. The cover photo is the best photo. However if you enjoyed the BBC series Orangutans diaries, this is for you.
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on 18 July 2010
It is one of the most insightful books I've red in along time. Not only you learn about our wonderful cousins the orangutans, but the author's ability to transport you through his personal journey in search of the orangutan and the people who had dedicated their lives to protect, help, rescue and rehabilitate these great Apes. Mind-Blowing Book, every person in this planet should read The Intimate Ape at least once.
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on 22 April 2014
This was bought as a present and the recipient was very happy. Everyone should be made aware of the plight of the orangutan. Beautiful animals, how anyone could kill this creature is beyond me. Hopefully everyone can be educated on how to help this endangered species but the poachers are to ignorant and evil. Grr makes me angry.
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on 4 March 2015
Really boring and hard work read, nothing much about secret life of the orangutan, more about HIS experience in Borneo, which I found depressing to read.Like new
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on 10 November 2013
Having just visited Borneo on holiday I feel that the book reflected the plight of Orangutans and the magnificent work being done for them.
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on 8 June 2014
I love this book and I would 100% recommend to anyone and everyone who loves nature and a very good read!
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on 12 April 2015
Enjoyed it immensely but there is a lot of background to it
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