Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Book Review: Through a Window

Hey everyone! While I was holidaying in America I picked up this book 'Through a Window' written by the amazing Jane Goodall. If you have read my post from when I went to a talk that Jane Goodall hosted in my home town, then you would know how much of an inspiration she is to me and how much I look up to her. I was so excited to find one of her books as I haven't been able to find any of her books in New Zealand apart from the one I bought at her talk. I feel I am reading her books all out of order as this is her second novel with her first one being 'In the Shadow of Man'. If I ever find a copy of that book, I will definitely pick it up as well.
'Through a Window' is based on the thirty years that Jane spent with the chimpanzees of Gombe, she tells us stories of how the chimpanzees interact with each other, and the world around them. You read stories of life and death, compassion and anger, love and hate all made to make you understand a little bit more about the animal that is most like the human.
My thoughts on the book? I loved it of course, but did get shocked around some of the stories she told. I am the first to admit that I have never really known much about our closest relative, and never really imagined how they exist in the wild. Since reading 'The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary' I have really taken an active interest in these amazing creatures, and am learning a fair bit about them, a lot thanks to Jane Goodall.
As usual in my book reviews I don't want to give too much away but need to tell you some of the stories that have touched me. I think to begin with, the thing that most shocked me, is the way that chimpanzees can hurt each other. They are not as peaceful as I once thought, and sometimes act in a way very similar to humans. The story of Passion attacking other female chimps babies is one that stood out. Her attacks were vicious, executed to a plan and involved getting her daughter to help her in these brutal confrontations. Please bear in mind though, that this seems to be an isolated event and we will never understand what was going through her mind when she made these attacks.
Another story that stood out was the one of when Pan was a baby. He was intently watching a baboon go about his business of cracking a nut to get to the good part of the nut which chimpanzees do not do. Pan however, was so intrigued by the baboons eating habits that he picked up this skill just from observing.
We can all agree that Jane Goodall has done a lot of amazing things over her life, from changing the way that humans look at non-human animals, to protecting forests in Africa from traditional threats and teaching the locals a better way to go about their lives. I think that the best thing she has shown, is that chimpanzees are very similar to us, not just in DNA but in the fact they each have their own individual personalities, traits, skills and family bonds. I would recommend this book to any animal lover out there, whether they have an interest in chimpanzees or not. I believe that every human should have basic knowledge about these incredible creatures that share so much with us. I admit now though, that if you are not used to non-fiction books, this may be a hard one to start with as it is very factual and is based on the thought processes behind certain behaviours in chimps. Although in saying that, it definitely not a full on scientific book. Check it out, and get in contact with me on any of our social media outlets to tell me your thoughts on this book!
Thanks for reading :)

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