Drawing on a lifetime of work as one of the world's most renowned scientists, conservationists, and animal rights activists, Jane Goodall has written a unique spiritual autobiography that explores her deepest beliefs about spirituality and moral evolution.
Jane Goodall, the preeminent female scientist of our time, spent years in the Gombe Reserve in Africa studying chimpanzee behavior.Called "The Studs Terkel of American Beliefs," (Chicago Tribune).
In her introduction, primatologist Goodall describes how she is frequently asked about the source of her apparent peace and optimism in the face of environmental destruction and human and animal suffering. She offers this autobiography as a meditation on how her spiritual beliefs evolved in response to major events of her lifetime, including her childhood in World War II-era England; early days at Gombe with the chimpanzees; rearing her only child, Grub; divorce, remarriage, and the loss of her second husband to cancer; and the turning point in her career when she dedicated herself to the plight of chimpanzees held in captivity for biomedical research. Throughout, she blends a disarming humility and sense of wonder at the natural world with a determined belief that humankind is capable of doing better. Occasional oversimplifications (such as equating dual-income families with child neglect) do not detract from the overall power of her book. Goodall challenges each of us to become "saints" in order to achieve a new relationship with nature, each other, and whatever higher power we may call "God." A very thought-provoking and wonderful read; recommended for all libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/99.]ÄBeth Clewis Crim, Prince William P.L., VA Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
The world's most famous, and perhaps most beloved, female scientist has previously related much of her life's outer journeyÄmost notably in In the Shadow of Man and Through a Window, which described her groundbreaking work with the chimpanzees of Gombe, in Africa. In this marvelous book, however, Goodall revealsÄwith clarity, great passion and purposeÄher inner journey. How invigorating it is to read the memoir of a scientist who proclaims frankly, and in language often infused with power and grace (a nod to Goodall's coauthor Berman, author of The Journey Home, etc.), an abiding faith in the sacredness of all life. Goodall, who's 65, covers her entire life here, from her earliest years in England, raised by a strong and loving family, through her apprenticeship under Louis Leakey and her years at Gombe, to her more recent work as an activist for environmental causes and animal rights. There are passages that verge on the mystical ("I and the chimpanzees, the earth and trees and air, seemed to merge, to become one with the spirit power of life itself"), a scattering of not terrific poems and great swaths of rapturous nature writing. The book's tone is highly emotional, sometimes sentimental, but Goodall is no naif. A chapter entitled "The Roots of Evil" describes her shocking discovery of chimps' capacity for cannibalistic attacks on members of their own community; "Death" details her despair at the suffering and demise of her husband, Derek, from cancer. Despite the darkness, however, throughout her life's adventuresÄand there are enough, in jungle and city, to make this book viscerally as well as morally thrillingÄGoodall has nurtured a fundamental understanding that goodness can prevail, with each person's help. This is a moving and inspiring book that will be treasured by all concerned about the fate of the planet and its inhabitants. 16 pp. of b&w photos. Simultaneous Warner AudioBook; author tour. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.