Reflections of Eden: My Years with the Orangutans of Borneo
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Reflections of Eden: My Years with the Orangutans of Borneo

4.17 of 5 stars 4.17  ·  rating details  ·  289 ratings  ·  17 reviews
From the first, it was an adventure. In 1971, at age twenty-five, Galdikas left the placid world of American academia for the remote jungles of Indonesian Borneo. Living with her husband in a primitive camp, she became surrogate mother to a "family" of ex-captive orangutans - and gradually adjusted to the blood-sucking leeches, swarms of carnivorous insects, and constant h...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published August 1st 1996 by Back Bay Books (first published 1995)
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Just basically want to be her.
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Jan 17, 2008 Valerie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: those interested in conservation, rainforests, and primates.
Birute Galdikas has devoted her life to studying and protecting the remarkable orangutans of Indonesia. This autobiographical account of her tenacity in the face of all manner of difficulties is well worth your time. Now in her sixties, she still lives and works in Indonesia, attempting to protect orangutans from habitat destruction, poaching, logging, gold mining, government corruption, the black market in wild animals, and the many people who believe that owning a wild animal confers high stat...more
Feb 20, 2008 Brimate rated it 4 of 5 stars Recommends it for: primate lovers, nature lovers
Shelves: primates
I finally finished this! It took me about a month, as nonfiction tends to do. Orangutans are my favorite primate, so I'm glad I got to read this. I got Reflections of Eden in January, and the other day I cleaned out my Amazon wishlist and discovered that Reflections of Eden had been on there for almost four years. So I finally read it. I enjoyed it.

Birute Galdikas was one of the earliest long-term orangutan researches. A disciple of Louis Leakey, and like Jane Goodall with chimpanzees and Dian...more
Whirl Girl
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, especially since it coincided with our own trip to Borneo. Her tone was right on, just scientific enough for a non-scientist. I found it fascinating to read about the discoveries that Galdikas made about the lives of wild and rehabilitated orangutans, and the comparisons to humans. It was told as just enough of a story, profiling different orangutans and then explaining how they influenced Galdikas' research and life. She also effectively intertwines her own perso...more
An interesting memoir of time spent living in the jungles of Borneo studying Orangutans. Birute's observation about orangutans are interesting although she was not a good enough writer to make me fall in love with the animals like some other nature writing I have read, although I certainly felt like I was there in her numerous descriptions of living and tromping through the jungle. What really holds the book back is that she has numerous observations about Indonesia and society in general, and h...more
Deborah Edwards
Birute Galdikas was one of the three brilliant primatologists handpicked by anthropologist Louis Leakey (the other two being Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey), but no one seems to know Galdikas as well as the others, and that's a pity. Her work with the orangutans has been groundbreaking for more than two decades, her story is stunning, and she writes like a dream. This book will wind a spell around you and captivate your heart. I guarantee it.
Dawn Hendry
I could read this book forever. Birute is an amazing woman.
Justin Podur
One of the giants of primate research and of conservation, Birute Galdikas here describes her life's work with the Orangutans of Borneo. It's an amazing story, mixing her field observations with her biography, which is fascinating and includes her interactions with other giants of the field, Fossey, Goodall, and Leakey. If we had more people like Galdikas, the world would be a better place.
Very enjoyable read. I appreciated Birute's tone and candor. Highly recommended for anyone interested in "Leakey's Angels" (Birute, Jane (Goodall), and Dian (Fossey)) and the work they did. Birute is a dedicated woman who tells her story plainly, but in no way a dull way. I was fascinated, inspired, and full of respect for the choices she made.
The descriptions of wild and captive orangs comprise 60%+ of the book and were very interesting - solid 4 star material. I did not enjoy the author's personal story, philosophical ruminations etc. and docked a star because there was too much of this stuff for my taste.
Mostly interesting. Call me squeamish or overly Westernized, but I really didn't want to read about an ex-captive male orangutan raping an Indonesian. Scientific observation has its limits. Otherwise, it was nice to learn a bit about these animals and Indonesia.
Not as good as the Jane Goodall books, mainly because the orangutans really don't make an appearance throughout the book. It's really a book about chasing them. They're private animals, and it was hard for Galdikas to get near them.
Sep 06, 2011 Brynn rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2011
Fascinating. Perfect blend of observations about orangutans and personal tribulations. The only problem is that she repeats herself every once in a while and the chapters are at times confusingly non-linear.
I used to think that I was passionate about conservation and the environment - this book puts dedication on a whole new level!
lovely lovely book - orang utans are so close to being humans...if only humans could be as pleasant as orang utans!
A great book for animal lovers and adventurers... very readable and enjoyable.
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Birutė Marija Filomena Galdikas, OC (born 10 May 1946), is a primatologist, conservationist, ethologist, and author of several books relating to the endangered orangutan, particularly the Bornean orangutan. Well known in the field of modern primatology, Galdikas is recognized as a leading authority on orangutans. Prior to her field study of orangutans, scientists knew little about the species.
More about Birute M.F. Galdikas...
Great Ape Odyssey Orangutan Odyssey Reflections of Eden: My Life with the Orangutans of Borneo The Neglected Ape

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“As I sit, my back leaning against a damp, moss-covered tree trunk, my eyes sweeping the canopy above, my ears straining to catch the crack of a distant branch that betrays an orangutan moving in the treetops, I think about how we humans search for God. The tropical rain forest is the most complex thing an ordinary human can experience on this planet. A walk in the rain forest is a walk into the mind of God.” 6 likes
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