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Through a Window: My Thirty Years with the Chimpanzees of Gombe
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Through a Window: My Thirty Years with the Chimpanzees of Gombe

4.26 of 5 stars 4.26  ·  rating details  ·  1,315 ratings  ·  82 reviews
THROUGH A WINDOW is the dramatic saga of thirty years in the life of a community, of birth and death, sex and love, power and war. It reads like a novel, but it is one of the most important scientific works ever published. The community is Gombe, on the shores of Lake Tangganyika, where the principal residents are chimpanzees and one extraordinary woman who is their studen ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published April 21st 2000 by Mariner Books (first published 1990)
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Joann
I have admired Jane Goodall ever since seeing "Miss Goodall and the Wild Chimpanzees" on TV when I was quite young. This book didn't disappoint. It is primarily a chronicle of the first thirty years of the work observing chimpanzee behavior at the Gombe reserve on the shore of Lake Tanganyika. There is a shorter summary at the end which discusses the intervening years with updates on the inhabitants of the reserve.
I have to agree with other reviews that I have read that say this book reads more
...more
Paul
I was with my family at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) over the recent Christmas break and happened to see a display based on Jane Goodall’s work with the chimpanzees of Gombe on the shores of Lake Tanganyika in East Africa. I’d always enjoyed primate exhibits at zoos, and the OMSI exhibit encouraged me to do some further reading.

Through a Window is Goodall’s autobiographical retrospective on her facinating career in Gombe. The stories of the chimpanzees that form the core of t
...more
Jacqui
I have read every book that Jane Goodall wrote. She has an easy-going writing style that shares scientific principals 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
...more
Tanja Berg
This was a wonderful revisit to Gombe. Jane Goodall writes about the chimpanzees she knew so well with insight and empathy. Some of the stories told are quite horrifying, including territorial wars and infanticide. Some attempts are made at the end of the book to compare us to them. That the study of chimpanzees would help us understand ourselves. However, it is worth considering how much difference in behavior there is betweeen the aggressive chimpanzees and their closest relatives, the peacefu ...more
Elisa
Jane Goodall paints a family portrait of the chimpanzees she got to observe for thirty years in the wild.

Most of it is not pretty but, then again, it's like reading about human history: there's the good, the bad, and the ugly. And it's no coincidence, since chimpanzees are our closest animal relatives.

Goodall's contribution to understanding this species is undeniable, as are her bold statements fifity-odd years ago regarding the emotional and humane position in which she regarded her subject ma
...more
Michelle
I just finished reading Jane Goodall's Reason for Hope: A Spiritual Journey which focused more on her background, her experiences and how they shaped her spirituality. This book, "Through a Window: My Thirty Years with Chimpanzees of Gombe" gave me more of an understanding of the primates themselves and I got to learn more about the chimpanzees that I was introduced to in her other book. It also gave more background into how the Research Centre at Gombe was created and its history.

I enjoyed thi
...more
Judy
I am amazed anew at the accomplishments of people around me. As I started the journey into Jane Goodall's description of her time spent with the chimpanzees in East Africa, right away I would have been intimidated. She's starting off into the forest alone, with some raisons for lunch, to observe the chimp families. To carry this on year after year, record meaningful data, learn to recognize and name them (unique to her study, as opposed to giving them a number), and then write about it in a way ...more
Jgrace
Through a Window: My Thirty Years with the Chimpanzees of Gombe – J. Goodall
4 stars

In 1971, Jane Goodall published In the Shadow of Man, documenting her first ten years of studying chimpanzees in their native environment. Through a Window, published in 1990, continues the story for a further 20 years. I read the first book not long after it was published and I’ve read several of her more recent books, but somehow, I’d missed this one.

This book follows original chimp colony and the descendents
...more
William Herschel
I used to not be an animal person. I didn't understand animals and was thus afraid of them. When I saw a cat, for instance, I equated it with a robot. It's movements were foreign and I had no idea what was inside of it. They were unpredictable and scary.

Even when I got past that, other primates still were very scary. They were so human-like to me, but they weren't which made me uneasy. I wouldn't be surprised if other people have similar feelings when seeing them. And so when I read this, I was
...more
Erin
I can't believe how much I enjoyed reading this. I thought that I would like it, but I didn't think I would be so fascinated by her studies, almost like I was seeing the chimpanzees in the wild myself.

I also never thought I would be able to relate to these real life "characters." I found my own characteristics in a few of the chimpanzees she writes about.

I also like that she doesn't come across as pure scientist, but also writes with wisdom and love.

"There are many windows through which we can
...more
Jasmin
I read this book a few years ago, and I enjoyed it immensely. As a biologist, I've been trained to think very objectively which made for an interesting experience when reading this book. Goodall has spent a good portion of her life living amongst chimpanzees and developed a deep connection with those she has studied. Her interpretation and writing of chimpanzees tends to be quite subjective, and I found myself being very critical as I started reading. Once I allowed myself to stop being overly c ...more
Kesh Butler
For anyone who wants an insight into the basics of human nature, and a potential window into the hominid soul, this book is what you should be reading.

Goodall beautifully captures her observations and her time at Gombe, introducing us to these beautiful, very human individuals who just happen to be a separate but very closely related species from us.

From the struggles of the mothers to raise their children to adulthood, to the intertribal warfare and the mourning - and oft-times depression - of
...more
Ashley
Monkeys or specifically chimpanzees have never really been overwhelmingly fascinating for me. However, it's hard to feel the same blase emotions about chimps anymore. There is so much passion on these pages. This woman has dedicated her life not only studying, but learning from these animals. The book isn't just Jane Goodall's field observations in Gombe, Africa. Instead, this book feels aptly named in that one will read this as if you are peering into lives unlike your own, but lives that are p ...more
Andrea
I just finished reading this book today. I have been getting into books on animals lately (read Wesley the Owl before this one) and I enjoyed it thoroughly. I have never given much thought to chimpanzees but after seeing Goodall's name referenced in Wesley the Owl I figured I needed to check it one of her books. Through a Window is fascinating from start to finish. Her style of writing keeps things interesting and you end up learning a ton about chimpanzees. The only experience I have with chimp ...more
Elizabeth Pawlowski
This is an absolutely amazing, must read book for anyone interested in primates, humans, animals, war, love, conservation, and science. I VERY rarely cry when reading a book, but I must admit tears came to my eyes a few times…and smiles too! There is a reason Jane Goodall is a renowned thinker of our times, and this book gives you a glance "through a window" into her intelligence and humanity.
Jude Grebeldinger
A remarkable life story of Jane Goodall's work in the Gombe, where her reasearch centre for chimpanzee behavior remains central to the understanding of primates. The families and communities of the chimps are fascinating in their complexity and extraordinary events, both heart wrenching and joyful.
I had an opportunity to visit the Gombe Park a few years ago with my daughter. We hired a fisherman to take us to the entrance on Lake Tanganika from the town of Kigoma. Greeted by the park ranger, we
...more
James F
The sequel to In the Shadow of Man, this takes the story of the Gombe chimpanzees from 1970, when the earlier book was written, up to 1990. Much was learned in that period about chimpanzee territoriality and agression, among other things. Anyone who read the first book should read this as well.
Pamela
This is a book that I am sure I will be thinking about for a long time. In reading about Jane Goodall's time studying chimpanzees in Gombe, I was amazed to learn just how much like us the chimps are. There are really aggressive, power-hungry males; there are nurturing, caring, mothering females; there are males who will never make it up the power ladder; there are females who are truly terrible mothers. There are even some who are murderers; some who are rescuers. A mother overwhelmed by twins. ...more
Kendra
Dec 23, 2014 Kendra rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: own
This was a beautiful book which told the stories of the chimpanzees at Gombe over the 30 years Jane Goodall has been observing them. The book was written in a way that is clear and not too technical, while still being scientific. I greatly enjoyed reading about these animals I have been so fascinated with for multiple years.
Elizabeth
This was such a delightful read- Goodall is a wonderful writer, easily explaining complex scientific ideas in an insightful manner that can help anyone understand them. The stories of each chimp latch onto your heart, and you will laugh at their antics, smile with their happiness, and tear up when misfortune and death hit the Kasakela community. I picked this up on a whim, and I'm very glad. I recommend this to anyone wanting to read nonfiction for the first time- it doesn't feel like nonfiction ...more
Marcy
This is a wonderful, insightful book that doesn't only give an overview of Goodall's work with the chimpanzees. It also illustrates why so much needs to change about the relationship between humans and our environment. It's also just wonderful to read her observations about these creatures--to see how incredible they are, and how much like humans they are, including all the violence. The conclusion of the book has some harrowing stories about medical experiments on chimpanzees and the torturous ...more
Molly
I'd been watching PBS documentaries on folks working in the field (mostly paleontologists, which is clearly quite the different profession), and I am interested in Goodall's work. A nice sequence of observations, letting us get to know the chimps she observed for so long. The closing chapter or two is didactic, which makes me consider audience--I didn't need to be repelled by lab testing and illegal poaching and black market selling of chimpanzees, but perhaps she wouldn't have been satisfied wi ...more
Jack
An interesting look at the complex lives of our highly intelligent chimpanzee relatives. The complexity of their social interactions is amazing. The middle chapters get a little tedious with far more discussion of individuals than I needed--you have to be very interested in chimp behavior to hang in there with all this laborious detail. The ending chapters about the need to stop the medical research on these wonderful animals (and consequent barbaric caging) plus the future for them were very in ...more
Cathy
When I was about 15 years old I became enthralled with animal behavior and chimpanzees. I read everything I could about Jane Goodall and also the chimps like Lucy and Washoe that learned sign language. It was one of the reasons I majored in biology. So I picked up this book more for nostalgia than anything else. However, I got caught up in the book more than I thought I would. Reading about the chimpanzees of Gombe was like reading a novel with multi-generational characters.
Sara
I've been watching Escape to Chimp Eden on Animal Planet and think chimpanzees are so interesting! I wanted to read about them because they are so human like, have unique personalities, and a social hierarchy. I liked the book and now know everything I ever wanted to know about chimpanzees and much more. The topic that was most interesting was the mother child relationship and how the quality of that relationship affected the chimpanzees for the rest of their life.
Marion Honey
Had to read this for an anthropology course--I continued with it even after I had been tested on it (yeah, that's right--I didn't finish it by the deadline). Some areas were compelling, other times I felt like I had to force myself through a chapter. Overall, I'm glad I read it. For a person who, well, isn't an animal person, the later chapters definitely put things in perspective for me. Goodall is a persuasive writer and just a generally inspiring scientist!.
Teresa Kelley
I had mixed feelings throughout this book. Initially I enjoyed reading the stories of the different chimpanzee families. After awhile, it became difficult to keep track of all of them. A bit later in the book, the stories began to feel repetitive. I enjoyed the conclusion of the book, as well as the updates she gave about some of the chimpanzees years later. Overall, I did not enjoy this book as much as I thought I would.
Adam  McPhee
I LOVE THOSE GODDAMN APES.
Catherine
Having read In the Shadow of Man many years ago, it was a pleasure to encounter Jane Goodall's update on the chimpanzees of Gombe in Tanzania. To my surprise, many of the chimps from the first book also make an appearance in this one, some now fully mature and in their prime, some sadly diminished in old age. It was a curiously bittersweet experience, but one I enjoyed.
Shauna Mckelly
This was a very interesting read chronicling some of the colorful chimp characters that the author and her teams have followed over the course of many years. There are not only interesting tidbits about chimps in general, but great stories of their lives in the wild and sobering commentary on the indignities and atrocities man has perpetrated on these very human-like animals.
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18163
Dame Jane Morris Goodall, DBE (born Valerie Jane Morris-Goodall), is a British primatologist, ethologist, anthropologist, and UN Messenger of Peace. Considered to be the world's foremost expert on chimpanzees, Goodall is best known for her 45-year study of social and family interactions of wild chimpanzees in Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania. She is the founder of the Jane Goodall Institute an ...more
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