Bonobo Handshake: A Memoir of Love and Adventure in the Congo

Written by Vanessa Woods

A young woman follows her fiancé to war-torn Congo to study extremely endangered bonobo apes-who teach her a new truth about love.

In 2005 Vanessa Woods accepted a marriage proposal from a man she barely knew and agreed to join him on a research trip to the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo. Settling in at a bonobo sanctuary in Congo's capital, Vanessa and her fiancé entered the world of a rare ape with whom we share 98.7 percent of our DNA and who live in a peaceful society in which females are in charge, war is nonexistent, and sex is as common and friendly as a handshake.

A fascinating memoir of hope and adventure, Bonobo Handshake traces Vanessa's self-discovery as she finds herself falling deeply in love with her husband, the apes, and her new surroundings in this true story of revelation and transformation in a fragile corner of Africa.

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Featured On Episode #61

Bonobo Handshake

Journalist and author Vanessa Woods joins us to discuss her new book Bonobo Handshake.  The memoir takes us inside Lola Ya Bonobo Sanctuary, a refuge for orphaned baby bonobos in the Congo. What can studying these highly social primates tell us about ourselves? And science blogger Greg Laden joins us for Everything You Know Is Sort of Wrong, a new regular feature exposing the truth behind some commonly held beliefs. Our first segment: Primitive Cultures.

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