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

4.25 of 5 stars 4.25  ·  rating details  ·  1,063 ratings  ·  73 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
Kindle Edition
Published 2010 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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
Ken Lavine
A brilliant book about the social interactions of the Gombe chimps. Jane Goodall definitively proves that these great apes are every bit as diverse, intriguing, and terrifying as any members of our own species.
Brook
I found this truly interesting. I had taken an Anthropology of Primate Behavior class while in college and found that many of the case studies were directly taken from Jane Goodall's experiences as chronicled in this book. It reads somewhat like a novel and renewed my interest in primate behavioral evolution. What a fascinating life Jane had.
Fabio Bertino
Una affascinante epopea degli scimpanzè della foresta di Gombe, in Tanzania. Scritto in maniera coinvolgente ed appassionato, è uno dei libri della Goodall che hanno cambiato il modo in cui gli etologi stessi vedono gli scimpanzè. Ho avuto la fortuna di incontrare Jane Goodall, e la sua passione per questi animali è davvero travolgente.
Cody
An amazing amount of info regarding the behavior of chimps that make me view them in a whole new light. Goodall shares her years of observation in an interesting manner with highlights of certain primates that she not only studied but often saw herself as friends with. This book is not only educational but entertaining.
jobiwan6
this woman is one of my heroes - i can't believe this is the first time i've read any of her books. so far, i am amazed at the beauty of her prose.

Sept. 2013:
oops. can't believe i left this here for so long. finished it last year. i am obviously more oblivious to my environment than the average chimpanzee.
Lara
Although it might seem like this book will only be enjoyed by specialists like me, it's really a very accessible gateway into primatology. Goodall's personal experiences really bring out the personalities of the chimpanzees she studies, and people will be surprised by just how similar the apes are to people.
Rebecka
This is extremely entertaining non-fiction! It makes me think of people as chimps when I see mothers toting around their kids or guys trying to impress people with their big muscles. The description of cannibalism is horrific. Reading this makes me want to watch more nature shows on the Discovery Channel.
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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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