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Walking with the Great Apes: Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, Birute Galdikas

4.15  ·  Rating Details ·  449 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
Studies the work and unique methods of three women scientists who contributed to understanding chimpanzees, mountain gorillas, and orangutans.
Paperback, 304 pages
Published March 9th 1992 by Mariner Books (first published 1991)
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Dec 18, 2013 Andrea rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
OK, what is it about these women and apes? Why would they be intent on devoting decades of their lives in the field, under the most improbable circumstances (Leakey's choice!) and the roughest, most uncomfortable conditions?

The premise of this book is to give an overview of the careers of the three leading women primatologists, but it is mostly an attempt to interpret and understand the way these women approach their work (mission would not be an exaggeration) and the motivation that fuels it.
Guillaume Belanger
I enjoyed this book. It is a brief, triple-biography of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Birute Galdikas, Louis Leakey's three protegees, his three "Primates", as he called them, in reference to the ecclesiastical title. The portrait that is painted of these amazing women is wonderful. They were all three truly unique in character, in resolve, in depth of determination, and in their qualities as the primatologists---the first women primatologists. They redefined the field entirely. They redefined ...more
Aug 05, 2010 Mary added it
Excellent on-site studies of the three prominent primate specialists who have spent their lives with orangutans, chimpanzees, and gorillas. The women's lives are very different, and their approach to the study also different, but all were dedicated. The author presents sympathetic but realistic pictures of the three women, their personalities, and their failures and successes--and also presents hte personalities of the apes.
Apr 04, 2013 Kelly rated it it was amazing
I loved that the book addresses the emotional and spiritual side of science, very interesting. Montgomery was the perfect person to write the book: open minded, calm, and thoughtful.
Feb 16, 2017 Mariah rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 21, 2014 Riley rated it really liked it
A really good biography of three of the world's best known primatologists, and how their approaches to their science allowed them to see things that their male counterparts did not.

I've always felt that the most inspiring people are those that succeed in what they love. In that sense, Jane Goodall and Birute Galdikas are uplifting individuals, though Dian Fossey, not so much.

Given descriptions like what follows, it is hard not to be interested in primates or impressed with Goodall, Galdikas and
Jan 20, 2014 Joan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: students who want to know more recent environmental history
This is an old book. SInce it was published in 1991, Sy Montgomery has changed her audience to youth and learnt the fine art of reducing books' length to emphasize the important messages she wants to convey. This is a book published not long after Dian Fossey had been murdered and perhaps was too focused on what really amounted to gossip about her. Montgomery tried to be fair by reporting both good and bad but you can also sense that she felt that Dian had erred on the side of fanaticism and cru ...more
Apr 14, 2012 Kelly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, nature
Famous archeologist Louis Leakey did something unheard of at the time: he sent an untrained young woman into the wilds of Africa to study an ape thought to be a savage beast. To the surprise of the science community, Jane Goodall not only changed the way we see chimpanzees, but she also gave a voice to animals in a way no one else ever has and, to this day, has changed the way scientists study animals. And in case people didn't think Leakey was crazy enough before, he then sent Dian Fossey, also ...more
Jan 30, 2008 Brittany rated it really liked it
This book covers the three women Louis Leakey sent out to live among the apes: Jane Gooddall with the chimpanzees, Dian Fossey with the gorillas and Birute Galdikas with the orangutans. It is fascinating, in that it analyzes the relationship between and among these three women, their relationship with Louis Leakey (favored daughter, crush, and which-one-were-you-again?) , and their relationships with their apes. Each woman brought her own personality and style to studying "her" animals and then ...more
Terrance Zepke
Oct 02, 2016 Terrance Zepke rated it really liked it
This is a great book IF you're interested in Africa, Borneo, primates, anthropology, etc. The three women mentioned in the title were chosen to go to remote areas of the world to study primates. None of them had any formal training in this field, just a desire to make a difference. They have also been searching for a little adventure, which they certainly got given their circumstances! Goodall studied chimps in Africa while Fossey studied gorillas, also in Africa. Galdikas studied orangutans in ...more
Sep 12, 2011 Kathryn rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone that needs inspiring
Recommended to Kathryn by: No one
Shelves: non-fiction
I loved this book.
I was familiar with Dian Fossey mainly from the film Gorillas in the Mist and had heard of Jane Goodall but mainly for her more recent environmental campaigning, but had never heard of Birute Galdikas who works with the Orangutans of Borneo before reading this book. All three women are truly inspirational, their dedication to the primates they studied and to the preservation of the species was and still is amazing.
This book is beautifully written and the stories conveyed so w
Chelsea Southworth
Good information, but a lot of unnecessary gender norm-based language (if that's the right way to say it; Montgomery very much bought into and upheld gender stereotypes) as well as huge misunderstandings of science (ie narrative descriptions = good, standardization/checkboxes/anything with a slightly rigorous methodology = EVIL). Not nearly as good the second time around, sadly.
Jan 11, 2012 Beflow06 rated it it was amazing
Excellent look into the lives of Lewis Leakey's Ladies!! Enjoyed learning more about what they went through both personally and as females approaching the world of research from a whole new perspective. What? You mean animals can express themselves? Oh My, how dare these females makes such suggestions! I'm glad they were able to prove their theories correct from their long, hard hours spent research these primates!
Jan 11, 2008 Claire rated it liked it
Shelves: already-read
During my hard core primatology obsession, I read everybook about primates as I could. This book is a great summary of some great women. However, I had already known alot of the information, so it became a little bit repetitive. But, if you don't know anything about naturalist and need to find a starting point, try this book!
Sep 13, 2008 Amy rated it really liked it
Although I don't find the writing to be particularly sophisticated, the descriptions and the facts of these women's stories are incredible. About the 3 women who studied ( and continue to advocate for and work with)the great apes, Jane Goodall, Birute Galdikas and Diane Fosey (RIP).
Makes me realize I can endure much more than I have ever forced myself to.
Jul 19, 2013 Jason rated it really liked it
Goodall, Fossey, and Galdikas - three very different women observing, loving, and protecting their respective great apes.

Very informative and personal, this gives you the facts, but it also tries to explain the women themselves. It attempts to answer the questions of why and how, which is always so much more interesting than the simple what, when, where.
Jonathan Lanza
Finished on the couch. Kath got home yesterday. Dad is cooking bacon, eggs, and toast (the sizzle of the stove). Mom is gone to grandparents house. Jeffrey in my sister's room. We are decorating the tree tonight.

Book was great. If only everyone would read this. Maybe it would change the way animals are thought of as lesser beings.

Mar 20, 2016 Karen rated it really liked it
Very fascinating portrayal of three incredible women, who were each devoted in their own way to science and the apes they studied. Inspiring, heart-breaking and always interesting. Definitely recommend.
Jan 21, 2008 Adam rated it it was amazing
Great book on the ape women (Fossy Goodall and Galdikas) and their relationship to Leakey, but it's real insight is the differences in their research styles and the differences between many men and woman in science
Sep 16, 2009 Christine rated it it was amazing
Sy Montgomery does an excellent job with this overview of the three remarkable women Louis Leakey chose to do the field research on the great apes.
Oct 11, 2010 Laura rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library-books
I have such strong memories of reading and loving this book.
Jan 17, 2012 Briana rated it it was amazing
Shelves: art-school
One of the best books ever. I was lucky to meet Sy Montgomery shortly after reading this book.
Sep 13, 2013 Mary rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book. It includes good brief biographies of Louis leaky's 3 primate women. Very interesting.
Jan 26, 2012 Hayley rated it it was amazing
Excellent multi-dimensional read about three controversial, amazing women. I was completely engaged.
Jun 09, 2009 DB rated it really liked it
Shelves: truthy
They're reprinting it! Coming out August 25, 2009 under ISBN: 9781603580625
Karthick Soundararajan
Jul 31, 2016 Karthick Soundararajan rated it really liked it
Really nice book on three of the most
Susan rated it really liked it
Jan 08, 2012
Litbyfireflies rated it it was amazing
Jan 04, 2013
Grzegorz Chrupała
Grzegorz Chrupała rated it liked it
Apr 14, 2012
Lisa Longacher
Lisa Longacher rated it liked it
Nov 15, 2015
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  • Bonobo: The Forgotten Ape
  • Jane Goodall: The Woman Who Redefined Man
  • Beyond Innocence: An Autobiography in Letters The Later Years
  • Woman in the Mists: The Story of Dian Fossey and the Mountain Gorillas of Africa
  • The Ocean World (Abradale)
  • Secrets of the Savanna: Twenty-three Years in the African Wilderness Unraveling the Mysteries of Elephants and People
  • Kanzi: The Ape at the Brink of the Human Mind
  • 100 Heartbeats: A Journey to Meet Our Planet's Endangered Animals and the Heroes Working to Save Them
  • Next of Kin: My Conversations with Chimpanzees
  • Wildlife Wars: My Fight to Save Africa's Natural Treasures
  • Listening to Whales: What the Orcas Have Taught Us
  • Where the Wild Things Were: Life, Death, and Ecological Wreckage in a Land of Vanishing Predators
  • Becoming Human: Evolution and Human Uniqueness
  • Elephant Memories: Thirteen Years in the Life of an Elephant Family
Part Indiana Jones, part Emily Dickinson, as the Boston Globe describes her, Sy Montgomery is an author, naturalist, documentary scriptwriter, and radio commentator who has traveled to some of the worlds most remote wildernesses for her work. She has worked in a pit crawling with 18,000 snakes in Manitoba, been hunted by a tiger in India, swum with pink dolphins in the Amazon, and been undressed b ...more
More about Sy Montgomery...

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“Adult gorillas will fight to the death defending their families. This is why poachers who may be seeking only one infant for the zoo trade must often kill all the adults in the family to capture the baby.” 2 likes
“But perhaps, in a world “older and more complete” than ours, there is a love that does not demand a reciprocal debt of need.” 2 likes
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