by Jane Goodall
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I have read every book that Jane Goodall wrote. She has an easy-going writing style that shares scientific principles easily with the layman. Probably because when she started, she was little more than a novice, going from secretarial school to the Gombe to study chimpanzees. She stayed there on and off for thirty years. This book, Through a Window (Houghton Mifflin 1990) shares her thoughts and conclusions on what she learned from that stretch of time with the chimpanzees.
The book reads like an anecdotal history of a town, inhabited by chimpanzees, but no less vibrant than any human town you might visit. Families mingle, struggle for survival, fight for leadership. Children mate and have babies. Parenting styles differ, which dramatically affects the future of the youngsters. A war between factions breaks out and residents take sides. There is death and rebirth, pain and sorrow, and rebirth again.
This book could be considered about animal behavior, but I challenge you to read it–without knowing it deals with chimps–and not recognize your neighbors, relatives, acquaintances, colleagues in the caste. You’ll find the emotions you’d experience in friends and the actions you’d expect from those you work with. You’ll think it’s the history of a small town.
And it is, but a town of primates.
The chapter titles tell you what you’re in for:
- Mothers and daughters
- Figan’s rise
- Sons and Mothers
- Bridging the Gap
Sound familiar? By the time I finished this book, after reading Goodall’s others, I never looked at chimpanzees or any of the great apes the same. Their emotions, actions, thoughts, desires are too close to human to be relegated to some ‘animal’ that we can’t understand. I’d recommend this for all those interested in studying our humanity.
Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-fifth grade and creator of two technology training books for middle school. She is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman. She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com, an ISTE article reviewer, an IMS tech expert, and a weekly contributor to Write Anything and Technology in Education. Currently, she’s working on a techno-thriller that should be ready this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.