“Absorbing . . . Béchard’s masterful, adventure-driven reporting delivers an inspiring account of an all-too-rare ecological success story.” —Booklist
Bonobos have captured the public imagination, due not least to their famously active sex lives. Less well known is the fact that these great apes don’t kill their own kind, and that they share nearly 99% of our DNA. Their approach to building peaceful coalitions and sharing resources has much to teach us, particularly at a time when our violent ways have pushed them to the brink of extinction.
Animated by a desire to understand bonobos and learn how to save them, Deni Ellis Béchard traveled into the Congo. Empty Hands, Open Arms is the account of this journey. Along the way, we see how partnerships between Congolese and Westerners, with few resources but a common purpose and respect for indigenous knowledge, have resulted in the protection of vast swaths of the rainforest. And we discover how small solutions—found through openness, humility, and the principle that poverty does not equal ignorance—are often most effective in tackling our biggest challenges. Combining elements of travelogue, journalism, and natural history, this incomparably rich book takes the reader not only deep into the Congo, but also into our past and future, revealing new ways to save the environment and ourselves.
“Riveting [and] surprisingly uplifting.” —David Suzuki, author of The Sacred Balance
“The embodiment of the type of reporting that we dream of reading, but all too rarely encounter—intelligent, engaged, and above all, astonishingly perceptive.” —Dinaw Mengestu, author of The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears
Also published as Of Bonobos and Men.