Africa in My Blood

Africa in My Blood

An Autobiography in Letters : the Early Years

Book - 2000
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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.

Baker & Taylor
The woman who devoted her life to studying chimps in Africa looks back on her life, from her early love of animals and an adolescent crush on her minister to her years in the bush observing primates and often sacrificing life's more stable pleasures. 25,000 first printing.

Book News
Covering her childhood to her professional coming of age in the mid-1960s, this self-portrait of the famous primatologist and animal advocate shows that Goodall was an animal lover from her earliest years. Includes photos of her family, her mentor Louis Leaky, and the Gombe chimps that she made famous. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

& Taylor

The woman who devoted her life to studying chimps in Africa looks back on her life, from her early love of animals to her years in the bush observing primates, often sacrificing life's more stable pleasures

Publisher: Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 2000
ISBN: 9780395854044
Branch Call Number: B GOODALL
Characteristics: 386 p. : ill., map ; 24 cm
Additional Contributors: Peterson, Dale


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Apr 28, 2016

This was very good for my 6th grade biography project, and I was able to understand it. I would also recommend this to adults- this is not a kid's biography. One thing is, this book is only the first half of her life (there is a sequel).


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