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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

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  1,819 Ratings  ·  109 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 is is one of the most important scientific works ever published.
Paperback, 262 pages
Published April 12th 1996 by Mariner Books (first published 1990)
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Apr 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To be read by those of you who love our beautiful and so rich Wildlife

"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
Jun 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: early-man, science
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
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
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
Claire Gillaspy
Apr 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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: non-fiction, science
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
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
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
Sep 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tanzania-I wanted to read this since the new documentary is coming out on Jane with unseen footage. The hours spent observing the chimpanzees is amazing. So much detail about so many of the Chimpanzees both the touching detail and the brutality.
Jul 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If I had to worship anyone/anything, it would be Jane Goodall. In all her books, you can just feel her genuinely kind spirit. This one is no exception.
Jun 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This might be the best book I've ever read.
Mar 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I want to BE Jane Goodall. Enough said.
Kourtni R.
Nov 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in chimps
Shelves: nonfiction
This review was originally posted on my blog.

Last semester I took a biological anthropology/primatology course and one of our assignments was to read a book written about studying apes. Because I’ve always kind of looked up to Jane Goodall, I decided to pick up one of her books and this ended up being the one I chose.

I’ll start off by saying that whether you know nothing or know a lot about chimps, this book will definitely have something for you to learn and/or enjoy. I’ve taken several biologi
Erin Rouleau
Mar 26, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 16, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Rian Nejar
Jun 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An enlightening, compelling, and moving journal of Dr. Jane Goodall's work with our very near relatives, endangered chimpanzees of the African forests, written in an engaging, lucid manner.

She vividly illustrates individual identity, and communal, tribal aspects of these arboreal primates...and conclusively evidences comprehension, empathy, compassion, and self-sacrifice in their conduct observed and recorded over decades and many generations. A truly humbling narrative, Jane Goodall weaves in
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
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
Kesh Butler
May 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, non-fiction
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
Sep 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jude Grebeldinger
Nov 26, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved the set up of this book. The stories all flowed together to make reading it very easy and interesting. The pictures were wonderful and inserted throughout the book where they were relevant to the stories. I've always loved watching nature documentaries and observing wildlife, and this book was a way to sit in my living room and learn things I never knew about chimps (good and bad) in a way that I never could have without Jane Goodall spending her life the way in which she chose and then ...more
Oct 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 05, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
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  • Bonobo: The Forgotten Ape
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  • Walking with the Great Apes: Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, Birute Galdikas
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  • The Emotional Lives of Animals: A Leading Scientist Explores Animal Joy, Sorrow, and Empathy - and Why They Matter
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  • A Primate's Memoir: A Neuroscientist's Unconventional Life Among the Baboons
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  • Second Nature: The Inner Lives of Animals
  • The Moon by Whale Light and Other Adventures Among Bats, Penguins, Crocodilians and Whales
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  • Beautiful Minds: The Parallel Lives of Great Apes and Dolphins
  • The Octopus and the Orangutan: New Tales of Animal Intrigue, Intelligence, and Ingenuity
  • Gorillas in the Mist
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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“Attacks by other chimpanzees are the second most frequent cause of death at Gombe, after disease. Through” 0 likes
“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” 0 likes
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