on 12 August 2010
I've read a few science non-fiction books, but 'In the Shadow of Man' by Jane Goodall really stands out. Maybe because it was written so well. In this book, Goodall isn't simply listing facts about Chimpanzees to you, but writing in such a personal way that you feel you are getting to know the chimpanzees themselves. And when finished the book you can really see the similarities between humans and our close 'cousins' the chimpanzees.
All in all, I truely enjoyed this book. Not only do you get a glimpse of the life of a chimpanzee, you also get a glimpse into what's it like to study them.
on 18 June 2012
In my younger days, when the idea of staying up all night was a mortifying one, I would make a point of reading this book every summer. I would do so in a single sitting each time, and find myself engrossed from beginning to end. 'In the Shadow of Man' reads almost like a novel, and is not simply captivating from a scientific point of view, but the stories of the varied and often so human-like personalities and antics of the chimpanzee population of the Gombe can be at times amusing, at times heartbreaking, but always entertaining. Even those who have no interest at all in the scientific aspects of the book are bound to find it an interesting read.
I found I had recently misplaced my copy, so I am purchasing it again not only to read it once more but because my collection just wouldn't be complete without it.
on 7 September 2013
Can't believe I've left it so long to review this book as I bought it ages ago and have just been reading it for a second time.
If have the slightest interest in our closest relatives you must read this and follow the work of the wonderful Jane Goodall. For a young woman with no scientific training to achieve what she has achieved is truly remarkable. My favourite quote in the whole book actually comes at the beginning of the book, page 3 - ....for of all living creatures today only man with his superior intellect, overshadows the chimpanzee. Only man casts his shadow of doom over the freedom of the chimpanzee in the forests with his guns and his spreading settlements and cultivation." Then in later chapters after discussing man's inhumanity and this particular primate's position in the hierarchy of living things, Jane says "It should be of concern to us all that we permit him (the chimpanzee) to live, that we at least give him the chance to evolve." I shall never be able to see chimpanzees in the wild but when I observe those rescued apes at Monkey World in Dorset I am always reminded of what humans can learn from their "society", their hand of friendship, their friendships and care for each other which is plain to see.
As an endnote - what a wonderful lady Jane's mother, Vanne, was in accompanying Jane in Tanzania, and becoming involved with the locals and setting up her clinics for them.