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Empty Hands, Open Arms: The Race to Save Bonobos in the Congo and Make Conservation Go Viral

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4.3  ·  Rating details ·  37 Ratings  ·  13 Reviews
When acclaimed author Deni Béchard first learned of the last living bonobos—matriarchal great apes that are, alongside the chimpanzee, our closest relatives in the animal kingdom—he was completely astonished. How could the world possibly accept the extinction of this majestic species?

Béchard discovered one relatively small NGO, the Bonobo Conservation Initiative (BCI), whi
...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published October 1st 2013 by Milkweed Editions
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Connor Rystedt
Aug 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
For those who are genuinely interested in reading this book, bare with my lengthy review for the good details. I enjoy elaborating on my reading experience, almost as a keepsake. My own story involving this book—at least in my own eyes—is rather interesting. Anyway, I'm mostly under the impression that no one will ever read my reviews. This is a relatively unknown book though, and on the off chance this review makes an appearance on the book's Good Reads page, I want any single potential reader ...more
Linsey Hurley
Jan 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I can't read any more doom and gloom books. I believe that as a civilization we are heading in a good direction, and this is a book of that in fact. This is a story about passionate people doing good work in the Congo, helping save the peaceful bonobo apes, while saving the people - and our planet along the way!
It's a win-win book that brings the truth about life down to simplicity. As we save the gentle creatures, we are saving ourselves. This is a group that is doing just that - against all o
...more
Flo Whitten
Aug 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fic
I thought this book was amazing. If I did not "win" this novel from the giveaways I may have never opened it up. This has been one of the best books I have read. It was an eye opening view of the congo and what really happens. It was well put togehter and very moving. I went from just knowing that the Congo was a land that has a ton of issues, even thought it was not always like that. After readying the novel I want to get more involved in protecting them.
Melissa T
Aug 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
I won this book on the giveaway first reads. This book is very compelling and inspirational. It chronicles Mr. Bechards work with the endangered bonobo.
Louise
Aug 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating journey to the Congo, a bonobo reserve and community-based conservation initiatives.
Steph C
I was looking forward to this book, but being an animal lover rather than a geopolitical nerd, I felt it was bogged down by the historical and political descriptions of issues within the DRC. While these political issues do inform the success of animal conservation, the lengthy passages were difficult for me to follow and made the book unenjoyable.
Elaine
Jun 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Set in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), it traces the author's journey with founders of the Bonobo Conservation Institute (BCI) as they introduce him to the ever-decreasing population of bonobos endemic to the rainforests. This book is less about the interactions with bonobos, and more about the network and community of people ravaged by harsh years of colonialism, exploitation, corruption and extreme poverty. People who have over the years been betrayed by foreigners and hence are skepti ...more
Meredith
Feb 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, science
This books is a lot of things. It's a thrilling travel memoir of a man's trip to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It's an informative piece of nature writing about bonobos and the African jungle. It's an enlightening historical record about the region's wars and conflicts. It's an indictment of NGOs and scientists who care more about prestige and money than they do about conservation. It's a love letter to the Bonobo Conservation Initiative (BCI). It's an exploration of the different cultur ...more
Mark
Oct 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a great book! Well-written and engaging, Bechard does a fantastic job of setting the scene - describing the bonobos' evolution, the geography of the area, and the geo-political wrangling that has led to the current situation.

His descriptions of the conservationists, the region, and the people of the region are fascinating. He explains how the Bonobo Conservation Initiative (BCI) has been able to achieve significant conservation with minimal resources. He points out how their work honors
...more
Joyce Yanney
Author writes about bonobos,(great apes) our closest relative, and its disappearance along with the rainforest that they live in. Tells us the struggle to prevent the extinction is not easy. Author tells us of the Congo and what is happening. Tells us of conservation efforts that are being made. This is the best book I have read on the great apes and the shrinking of the rainforest so far. I highly recommend this book. Great writer.
David Hurley
Oct 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. Bechard is an excellent writer and weaves together well-researched narrative with emotionally engaging stories very well. Surprisingly, this is a hard book to put down. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in how conservation can succeed in the 21st century.
Karel Baloun
Mar 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
How overpopulation, poverty and institutional corruption make conservation in the Congo so hard. It all comes down to tremendous individual effort, persuading naturally self and family concerned people, often having seen only one way, stuck in their own perspective
Debbie
Mar 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Very thought-provoking read! I learned a lot about the DRC and a bit about Africa.
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