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

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  2,361 ratings  ·  155 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
Paperback, 268 pages
Published April 21st 2000 by Mariner Books (first published 1990)
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Mar 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have always been an animal lover. My earliest reading memories involve blue whales because on a trip to Chicago’s Field Museum Of Natural History, I was mesmerized by the skeletons and the next day my mother took me to our local library where over the next few months I proceeded to check out every book on whales and dolphins I could find. This was at the ripe age of three. Over time this appreciation of animals has included supporting the World Wildlife Fund, visiting zoos, dreaming about bein ...more
Apr 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Chrissie by: Brina
Through a Window: My Thirty Years with the Chimpanzees of Gombe has a slow start. If you are bored at the beginning do not give up! By the end I was captivated. I came to feel close to the chimps. They had become my friends and I their fan. I related to them as to fellow human beings.

Today it is common knowledge that animals have both emotions and intelligence. When Jane Goodall began her work in 1960 with the chimpanzees in Gombe, Tanzania, behavioral psychology ruled. Her views were criticized
Apr 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
To be read by those of you who love our beautiful and so rich Wildlife
Mar 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing

"How much we have yet to learn."

Jane Goodall now joins Dostoyevsky, Wharton, and Wouk as authors whose books I have attempted, abandoned, returned to, completed, and treasured.

Through a Window is the history of a family. It spans 30 years in a chimpanzee community inhabiting the Gombe wilderness of Tanzania. With Jane Goodall as our guide, we are introduced to a group of individuals with personalities and life stories as distinctive as those of any human. There's Gilka, an outgoing and playful
Jul 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: great
Chimpanzees manifest the same behavioral patterns of strategic warfare, territoriality, and xenophobia, that humans do. The leading male chimps are those that chase top status and are obsessed with dominance over simple short-term material goals such as food and reproduction, similar to our own psychopathological leaders/CEOs. They also manifest our more pacific or cooperative repertoire of behaviors and gestures-- kissing, embracing, stooping obsequiously to community members of higher status, ...more
4.5 stars

This was originally written in 1990, 30 years after Jane Goodall went to Gombe National Park in Tanzania to study chimpanzees My edition was published in 2010, so there is even extra info with a preface and an afterword written by Jane in 2009. This continues/updates her first book on the chimps of Gombe, In the Shadow of Man.

I read In the Shadow of Man a number of years ago, but I loved revisiting the same chimps and their offspring, and following them later in the their lives! Jane i
Lis Carey
Jane Goodall has done decades of groundbreaking research on the chimpanzees of Gombe National Park in Tanzania. This is her account of her work there over thirty years, starting when it was still scientific heresy to describe animals as having thoughts and emotions--even animals so obviously close to us in evolutionary terms as chimpanzees. Goodall didn't have a degree at all, much less in ethology, when Louis Leakey recruited her to study chimpanzees, so she described what she saw in the chimpa ...more
Jun 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science, early-man
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
Dana Jane
Dec 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Personally, I was looking forward to this book. The first few chapters really enticed me, but as I kept reading I began to feel like it was too repetitive and had too many chimps it was focusing on. I could not keep track of all the names! The writing style was good, but I just found it dull towards the late middle.
Dec 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
It’s written like a novel/drama about chimpanzee social life which is just not interesting to me. I only enjoyed at the end where she talked about what she learned from the observations and how they were used in a wider context scientifically
Jul 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this. It was a little difficult to keep all the names straight, especially since the first letter of the names of offspring are the same as the mother's, but other than that it's a relatively easy read and has lots of memorable scenes of both exciting action as well as humor. In particular, the more disturbing behavior is rendered in gut-wrenching detail and you feel the sadness when a favorite is found dead. Even though I've read about chimpanzees before, I learned some new thi ...more
Sep 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
An excellent novel about the Gombe Chimpanzee Group as told in an earnest, charming and talkative manner by Dr. Goodall. Fascinating read on the intricate relationships between Chimps, following lineages and discussing the war and chimp-brutality that came between some of them.
Claire Gillaspy
Apr 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history-day
I would recommend this book to others if they are interested in Jane Goodall and her work or just animals behavior in general. I read this book for a National History Day project and it was very helpful in giving me a look into Goodall's work in the forests of Gombe. This book unlike many non-fiction books I have read for this project, it gives not only interesting facts about chimps in general and their remarkable relation to humans, but also great stories of their lives in the wild. You start ...more
Tanja Berg
Sep 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, non-fiction
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
Rachele Cateyes
Mar 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Maybe I wasn't prepared for the gore of every day chimp life because I just read a Jane Goodall biography? I was hoping for more of the shy, animal loving Jane that I fell in love with and not so much of the killing and cannibalism. Spoiler: Chimps are not vegetarian. But, in reading this book, I fell in love with these complex creatures that she quietly observed in Africa. Telling their story is a crucial part of saving their habitat and dwindling population. I will probably continue my reading ...more
Aug 25, 2019 rated it liked it
For me, this book felt much like a rather dramatic reality TV show of chimpanzee society and life, which I enjoyed. The book and all its tales of the chimpanzees at Gombe give us, humans, a window to see how infinitely complex creatures they are in the many facets of their lives.

It is a great book I would recommend for those interested in ethology, the scientific and objective study of animal behaviour, and wildlife conservation. Language wise, it is a rather easy read.
Oct 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
I found this book both fascinating and unsettling. Its description of the chimpanzee societies of Gombe National Park in Tanzania is extraordinary. It is impossible to read this book and not recognize chimps as sentient beings with their own unique cultures. Goodall includes at the end of the book a passionate plea to recognize chimps as complex beings with at least the right not to be tortured by humans, as apparently is all too common in research, zoological, and tourism pursuits.

Dec 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't think I had a full appreciation for chimpanzees until reading this book. Since Dr. Goodall organized most of the chapters by themes or focusing on individual animals it was a little hard to keep things straight. The different power struggles, personalities, and family dynamics were fascinating but I had to basically give up on remembering exactly how the different stories fit together in the timeline. I like the fact that she talks about the good, the bad, and the ugly versus painting an ...more
Inga Freiberga
Mar 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It's easy to forget that the names in the book belong to chimpanzees and baboons not humans, because their interactions and fate is sometimes very similar to ours. I was often loving one individual and hating the other one or almost crying about misfortunes some where encountering. Author is very aware of that, as she without shame is stating that she had her favorites and the ones she didn't like at all. So from this point book can be read as novel about destinies of different families and indi ...more
I found this memoir absolutely fascinating. Adding it to my favorites list. It's nothing like what I usually read, but even so, it completely sucked me in. It read less like a book about chimpanzee behavior and more like a story about a multigenerational family.

Jane Goodall's love and respect for these animals was evident as I read, and it made me connect to them, when before I had honestly found chimpanzees very frightening and strange. That's not to say she romanticizes them at all. She's ver
Tyler Thiel
Feb 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I picked this up randomly from a used book shop. One of the greatest random chances of my life. This book is phenomenal, I didn’t ever think I could feel so connected to a group of chimpanzees the way I did while combing through the pages. They act nearly human. Dugan is ambitious and courageous, Gigi is the coolest girl ever, I hate Passion, she can get f****ed.

The ending is remarkably sad. Tears welled up in my eyes during the last two chapters. Unfortunately, that had more to do with the evi
Aug 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A little clunky on a sentence level sometimes, but if you want hundreds of pages of Jane Goodall talking about chimp behavior / social organization / child development / ingroup-outgroup differentiation – which I ABSOLUTELY DID – this is for you. Minimal veering into the author's life, which I appreciated.

My least favorite parts: the occasional bland philosophical musing (love, evil, etc), and what I consider overinterpretation of chimp emotions – I agree with JG and think it's highly probable c
Dawn Rupert
Mar 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
There is probably nothing that Jane Goodall could write that I wouldn't give five stars. To me, she is just a truly remarkable person who introduced me, along with Leakey, to the fields of Anthropology and animal studies. This book explores her 30 years of living and studying the chimpanzees of Gombe. As I read this book, I can hear Ms. Goodall reading the book too me, so familiar is her voice in my head.

I enjoyed the many pictures of the chimpanzees that she studied. The book is a totally enjoy
Alex Barker
May 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
A very enjoyable read. At first this book seems like a simple account of the daily activities of chimps in Gombe. Quite the contrary. This book is eye opening in its description about our most closely related ancestors and one can really connect with the feelings and emotions of the individuals in the community. Individuals is a good way of describing the chimps of Gombe as the reader becomes used to each character and his/her idiosyncrasies. Figan is by far my favourite.
Aside from chimp observa
The first few chapters were OK. After that it was repition of violence, reproductive acts, and birth ad-nauseum. Honestly, I read 3/4th of the book and could not take any more. I can't quite understand why people who hold to evolution wouldn't be in favor of prosecuting these incestuous, murderous, cannibalistic near-humans for their vile acts (or conversely, not criminalize such acts in humans, since we are just higher animals). However, I believe humans are NOT evolved from such creatures, but ...more
Feb 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I never thought I would enjoy a book about observing chimpanzees in the wild so much. What complex, thoughtful creatures. My fascination with Jane Goodall was my main interest in picking this up - she's a heroine of mine. I've never read a biography on her and this wasn't a biography, but more her telling the story of the chimps, their personalities, their society, her observations. You get a taste of what it was like for Jane to live in the Gombe and run the camp with her students and workers, ...more
Rob Mills
Aug 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jane Goodall manages to take decades of watching the chimpanzees and distill all those difficult to garner datapoints into small, cogent, chapter based narratives.
I have not read her first book and didn't know very much about chimps, so found this quite educational. Her conclusions were to stop animal testing and for the int'l community to creatively look at ways to help establish preserves.
The unwritten epilogue for this book (written in 1990) includes a lot of tragedy in Africa (Rwanda, Zair
Jul 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the world of ethology, Jane Goodall is an iconoclast, certainly one of the most renowned for her efforts in chronicling and describing chimpanzee society and behaviour. Structured in such a way that by highlighting the life of a specific chimpanzee or a trait that is displayed in various ways among different chimpanzees, Goodall brings us deep into the wild world of Gombe. The final chapters and appendix serve as a rallying cry for us to embrace our humanity and do what we can for wildlife co ...more
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For the Australian academic and mystery writer, see Professor Jane R. Goodall.

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 Strea

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November is the time for aspiring writers to get serious about writing that book! It's National Novel Writing Month, the annual event designed to...
5 likes · 1 comments
“I well remember writing to Louis about my first observations, describing how David Graybeard not only used bits of straw to fish for termites but actually stripped leaves from a stem and thus made a tool. And I remember too receiving the now oft-quoted telegram he sent in response to my letter: "Now we must redefine tool, redefine Man, or accept chimpanzees as humans." There” 2 likes
“Attacks by other chimpanzees are the second most frequent cause of death at Gombe, after disease. Through” 1 likes
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