Africa in My Blood: An Autobiography in Letters : the Early Years

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Houghton Mifflin, 2000 - Biography & Autobiography - 386 pages
AFRICA IN MY BLOOD is an extraordinary self-portrait in letters of Jane Goodall's early years, from childhood to the publication of IN THE SHADOW OF MAN, revealing this remarkable woman more vividly than anything published before, by her or about her. We see her at eleven founding the Alligator Society ("You have to be able to recognize 10 birds, 10 dogs, 10 trees and 5 butterflies OR moths"); at seventeen developing a crush on the local minister ("He has a beautiful long nose and he loves dogs"); at twenty punting at Oxford -- and falling out of the boat ("And I stood in the water -- up to my chest -- and roared and roared with laughter"); at twenty-two working at a film company and saving for a trip to Africa.

At twenty-three, she took that trip, to "the Africa I have always longed for, always felt stirring in my blood." In Kenya's White Highlands, she rode horses, danced, and developed her observational skills on both animals and men ("He is very handsome & Clo & I sat in the car admiring his bottom & feeling sorry for him because he was getting filthy & oily"). The men returned her interest ("What the devil am I to do with all these middle aged married men. They hang in multitudinous garlands from every limb and neck I've got").

The turning point of her life came when a friend told her, "If you are interested in animals, you must meet Louis Leakey." And when she did meet the legendary anthropologist, he saw in this young secretarial school graduate the ideal candidate to undertake a revolutionary study of chimpanzees. He sent her to the Gombe Stream Chimpanzee Reserve on Lake Tanganyika, where she immersed herself in the lives of wild animals as no one had ever done before. Goodall has told this story in other books, but never so immediately and emotionally. She describes a chimp rain dance ("Every so often their wild calls rang out above the thunder. Primitive hairy men, huge and black on the skyline, flinging themselves across the ground in their primaeval display of strength and power . . . Can you begin to imagine how I felt? The only human ever to have witnessed such a display in all its primitive, fantastic wonder?"); a female chimp mating with five males early in the morning ("Hello -- No 5 is queuing, down on the bottom branch. 'Thanks Big Boy, but don't hang around.' No 5 leaps out of the way as No 4 charges down . . . Soon over & off he goes. Now perhaps a girl can have a bite of breakfast"); a colobus monkey clasping its dead baby ("She kept trying to groom its poor little coat. Oh, it was heart rending. I'm only so glad I've never seen a chimp with a dead baby. I just couldn't bear it").

AFRICA IN MY BLOOD is a dramatic, moving, funny, and important book that tells the story of how an English girl who loved animals became one of the greatest scientists of the twentieth century.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - develynlibrary - LibraryThing

An autobiography in the form of letters Jane Goodall has written to family throughout her life. It gives insight for her passion of chimps and how she considered them family. The time spent on her studies was monumental. It was a good way to see her on a personal level and her family origin. Read full review

Africa in my blood: an autobiography in letters: the early years

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

The ambitions and struggles of chimpanzee ethologist Goodall are detailed in this collection of letters written by Goodall from her childhood in 1942 through the onset of her fame in 1966 and edited ... Read full review

Contents

Introduction
1
Childhood 1942195 2
11
Transitions 19521957
38
Copyright

10 other sections not shown

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About the author (2000)

Jane Goodall, 1934 - Jane Goodall, a well-respected English zoologist, is famous for her fieldwork with chimpanzees in Africa. An early interest in African wild animals and the opportunity, at age 18, to stay on a friend's farm in Kenya, led her to Dr. Louis Leakey; then curator of the National Museum of Natural History in Nairobi. Almost immediately Leakey hired Goodall as his assistant secretary, and she was soon accompanying Leakey and his wife on their expeditions. Following Leakey's suggestion that a field study of some of the higher primates would be a major contribution to the understanding of animal behavior, she began studying the chimpanzees of the Gombe Stream Research Center in Tanganyika (now Tanzania) in 1960. Although she had no undergraduate degree, Goodall earned a Ph.D. from Cambridge University in 1965, based on her first five years of research at the Gombe Center. After more than 20 years of extensive study and direct contact with wild chimpanzees in their natural habitat, Goodall continues to research, teach, and write about primate behavior today.

Dale Peterson is also the author of "The Deluge & the Ark" & "Storyville" & is the coauthor with Jane Goodall of "Visions of Caliban" & with Richard Wrangham of "Demonic Males". He resides in Arlington, Massachusetts.

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