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

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  558 ratings  ·  34 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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 ·  558 ratings  ·  34 reviews

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Start your review of Walking with the Great Apes: Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, Birute Galdikas
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.
Sep 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
I found this book in a book sale, and I thought I'd like to read about the three "ape ladies" all in one book. The three are Jane Goodall, who studied chimps, Dian Fossey, gorillas, and Birute Galdikas, orangutans. Reading the book, I realized I knew a lot about Jane Goodall and her work. I have seen her speak twice. As this book was published in 1991, the book ends as Jane is just beginning her work to save the wild chimps and help all those held captive in labs, etc. I also knew a lot about ...more
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 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.
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.
Apr 04, 2013 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.
Jun 21, 2014 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 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 ...more
Apr 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nature, non-fiction
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
Elaine Burnes
An early book, if not Montgomery’s first. She profiles Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Birute Galdikas together in sections by theme. Just really well done, especially the juxtaposition of them and the insight Montgomery brings. Jane was the first, the golden (literally) girl, Dian was the difficult middle child. I knew of Galdikas from her Earthwatch days and this explored her myths and gave critical insight into how and why she works the way she does. Seeing her framed by the others is ...more
Jan 30, 2008 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
Three stories in one is Montgomery’s MO in what I think is one of her first books published? Spectacularly done! I never found out as much about these three as in any other way, though I absolutely enjoyed the graphic novel Primates that focuses on these three.

Montgomery paints a picture of women in the field, passionate about their apes to a fault, and being who they are in these countries studying and in many cases protecting what are now endangered species. It was about their personal life,
Terrance Zepke
Oct 02, 2016 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 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
Jan 11, 2012 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!
I learned a lot about the primates studied by the "Leakey ladies," and the environments they were in - both in the larger scientific communities they contributed to, and their host countries where they lived while researching.

HOWEVER some parts of the book regarding race and Africa I found deeply problematic and off-putting.

Recommend otherwise.

Sep 13, 2008 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.
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.

Claire Aiken
Jan 11, 2008 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!
Jul 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
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.
Jan 21, 2008 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
Jan 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Excellent multi-dimensional read about three controversial, amazing women. I was completely engaged.
Sep 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book. It includes good brief biographies of Louis leaky's 3 primate women. Very interesting.
Debra Cook
This a book about the research and ways of consevation of Dian Fossey, Jane Goodall, and Birute Galdikas.
Apr 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing

An enjoyable read and an interesting story.

A great addition to anyone's home bookshelf.

Jun 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: truthy
They're reprinting it! Coming out August 25, 2009 under ISBN: 9781603580625
Sep 16, 2009 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.
Margo Tanenbaum
Mar 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a terrific introduction to the work of these three women by one of the best writers about animals around. Highly recommended.
Oct 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library-books
I have such strong memories of reading and loving this book.
Jan 17, 2012 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.
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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 ...more
“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.” 4 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.” 3 likes
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