Cover image for Walking with the great apes : Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, Birutbe Galdikas
Walking with the great apes : Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, Birutbe Galdikas
Montgomery, Sy.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 1991.
Physical Description:
xix, 280 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
"A Peter Davison book."
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 8.8 16.0 147785.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QL26 .M66 1991 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Here is the story of three gifted women trained by the famed Louis Leakey. This book, "a sensitive and revealing contribution to the legend of a unique sisterhood" (Chicago Tribune), tells of three women who each gave her mature life to the love, study, and defense of another primate species.

Author Notes

Sy Montgomery was born on February 7, 1958 in Frankfurt, Germany. She is a 1979 graduate of Syracuse University, a triple major with dual degrees in Magazine Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and in French Language and Literature and in Psychology from the College of Arts and Sciences. She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Keene State College in 2004, and an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Franklin Pierce University and also from Southern New Hampshire University in 2011.

Montgomery is a naturalist. She is an author, and scriptwriter. Her most popular book, The Good Good Pig, is a memoir of her life with her pig, Christopher Hogwood. The book became listed on the New York Times bestseller list in 2015. How to be a Good Creature: A Memoir in Thirteen Animals was published in September 2018. Her other notable titles include Journey of the Pink Dolphins, Spell of the Tiger, and Search for the Golden Moon Bear.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

This is an exciting book. Montgomery provides an outstanding, popularized synthesis of the long-term, close-range study of large primates conducted by three renowned women, all protegees of anthropologist Louis Leakey, who believed "that women are better observers than men." The author also conveys a fine sense of the diverse personalities of the three: Jane Goodall of England, who has observed chimps at Gombe in Tanzania for 30 years (see her own Windows on the World [BKL Ag 90]); American Dian Fossey, who lived among the mountain gorillas of Rwanda for 18 years until her brutal murder in 1985; and Canadian Birute Galdikas, who for 17 years has made her home among the orangutans in a swamp jungle in southern Indonesian Borneo. Montgomery describes the unconventional Leakey's faith in his chosen researchers and spells out the resistance put up by the scientific world about these women, who not only studied their subjects in the wild, but also gave them names and, at times, interfered in the natural order of things to help the apes. Montgomery likens their studies to a vision quest: "Whether it was voiced or subconscious, sustained or abandoned, each woman had to have felt the ancient longing to become one with the animals." A selected bibliography and list of organizations that support the trio's work are appended to a splendid, well-written account, enhanced by scattered photos, that will draw in readers unfamiliar with the research projects as well as those who have been following them through the years. ~--Sally Estes

Publisher's Weekly Review

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. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

Montgomery presents Dian Fossey, Jane Goodall, and Birute Galdikas as models of empowered women revealing truths of primate behavior and striving to preserve our three closest relatives. This journalistic presentation provides titillating details of the women's private lives but is not reliable as a source of information on the animals. There are several black-and-white photographs and suggested reading, but no references or index. The book describes the lives of the three women, their relationships with Louis Leakey, with each other, and with the scientific establishment. Science libraries will find the work disappointing as it glorifies a mystic, shamanist view of primatology and is strongly anti-science. Both undergraduate and graduate libraries with an interest in the history, sociology, and anthropology of science may find the book useful as well as entertaining. The racist (black Africans are unfeeling savages, whites are compassionate) and sexist (only women are sensitive, patient observers) stereotypes suggest caution in use by unsophisticated readers. The books by Fossey (Gorillas in the Mist, CH, Dec'83) and Goodall (especially Through a Window, CH, Apr'91) are much superior. Advanced undergraduates and up. -T. C. Williams, Swarthmore College