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 lovesdogs"); 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 19421952
10
Transitions 19521957
38
Copyright

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About the author (2000)

JANE GOODALL continues to study and write about primate behavior. She founded the Gombe Stream Research Center in Gombe National Park, Tanzania, and the Jane Goodall Institute for Wild Life Research, Education, and Conservation to provide ongoing support for field research on wild chimpanzees. She is the author of many books, including two autobiographies in letters, Africa in My Blood and Beyond Innocence . Today Dr. Goodall spends much of her time lecturing, sharing her message of hope for the future, and encouraging young people to make a difference in their world. Dale Peterson is the coauthor with Jane Goodall of Visions of Caliban (a New York Times Notable Book and a Library Journal Best Book) and the editor of her two books of letters, Africa in My Blood and Beyond Innocence . His other books include The Deluge and the Ark , Chimpanzee Travels , Storyville USA , Eating Apes , and (with Richard Wrangham) Demonic Males . They have been distinguished as an Economist Best Book, a Discover Top Science Book, a Bloomsbury Review Editor's Favorite, a Village Voice Best Book, and a finalist for the PEN New England Award and the Sir Peter Kent Conservation Book Prize in England. He resides in Massachusetts.

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