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Walking with the Great Apes

Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, Biruté Galdikas

By Sy Montgomery
Foreword by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas

Nature & Environment

2017 is the 50th anniversary of The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund and Karisoke Research Center in Rwanda.

Three astounding women scientists have in recent years penetrated the jungles of Africa and Borneo to observe, nurture, and defend humanity's closest cousins. Jane Goodall has worked with the chimpanzees of Gombe for nearly 50 years; Diane Fossey died in 1985 defending the mountain gorillas of Rwanda; and Biruté Galdikas lives in intimate proximity to the orangutans of Borneo. All three began their work as protégées of the great Anglo-African archeologist Louis Leakey, and each spent years in the field, allowing the apes to become their familiars--and ultimately waging battles to save them from extinction in the wild.

Their combined accomplishments have been mind-blowing, as Goodall, Fossey, and Galdikas forever changed how we think of our closest evolutionary relatives, of ourselves, and of how to conduct good science. From the personal to the primate, Sy Montgomery--acclaimed author of The Soul of an Octopus and The Good Good Pig--explores the science, wisdom, and living experience of three of the greatest scientists of the twentieth century.


"This is a book about how love--the power that moves us beyond us and our own self interest to form relationships with an 'other'--can transform lives and worlds.... Author Montgomery brings an admirable grace and kindness to her treatment of the three women's lives and work, affording them, in many ways, the same dignity and respect they offered to the animals they observed and card for so deeply.... It is worth reading simply as expert storytelling, animated by particular and passionate writing."--Cape Cod Times

Publishers Weekly-
In this study of three great female primatologists, science journalist Montgomery moves beyond biography into ethology, taking a step that goes well beyond even her subjects' research. Goodall, Fossey and Galdikas each made a similar leap, the author contends, moving from observers and recorders to an almost shamanistic quest to enter the world of the apes they studied. These personal transformations are sketchily supported with anecdotes from the field, personal interviews and even a jarring account of an attempt to contact Fossey, after her death, via channeling. Montgomery adds little to Farley Mowat's 1988 biography of Fossey, Woman in the Mists , but she offers a few fresh angles on Goodall, Galdikas and other characters, human and ape, met before in their books. In an epilogue, Montgomery offers the intriguing view of these scientists as pioneers of a particularly female way of scientific knowing that deserves fuller argument than three portraits allow. Photos. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Sy Montgomery

Sy Montgomery

Researching articles, films, and her twenty-one books for adults and children, bestselling author Sy Montgomery has been chased by an angry silverback gorilla in Rwanda, hunted by a tiger in India, and swum with piranhas, electric eels, and pink dolphins in the Amazon. Her work has taken her from the cloud forest of Papua New Guinea (for a book on tree kangaroos) to the Altai Mountains of the Gobi (for another on snow leopards.) Her books for adults include The Soul of an Octopus (a National Book Award finalist), The Good Good Pig, Birdology, Spell of the Tiger, Journey of the Pink Dolphins, and Walking with the Great Apes. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband, the writer Howard Mansfield, their border collie, Thurber, and their flock of free-range laying hens.


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July 08, 2018

Sy Montgomery and Elizabeth Marshall Thomas at Monadnock Lyceum

Monadnock Summer Lyceum, Peterborough, NH | Sy Montgomery
Sy Montgomery and Elizabeth Marshall Thomas will speak as part of the Monadnock Lyceum Summer Speaking Series on July 8.

See all Events by this Author


Writing About Animals

Sy Montgomery and Elizabeth Marshall Thomas talk about their new book.

TEDx Talks - Do Animals Think and Feel?

Join naturalist and author Sy Montgomery as she takes us on a heartfelt adventure to present the overwhemling evidence that animals across a wide variety of species do think and feel and experience consciousness.

National Book Foundation - The Soul of an Octopus

Sy Montgomery reads at the 2015 National Book Awards Finalists Reading

The Wild Life - How To Be A Good Creature

With friend Vicki Croke, nature writer Sy Montgomery says animals have taught her how to be a good creature.

Walking with the Great Apes

Pages:272 pages
Book Art:Insert with color photos
Size: 5.5 x 8.5 inch
Publisher:Chelsea Green Publishing
Paperback: 9781603580625
Pub. Date August 25, 2009

Available In/Retail Price

Paperback, 272 pages, $24.95