"Lost in awe at the beauty around me, I must have slipped into a state of heightened awareness....Self was utterly absent: I and the chimpanzees, the earth and trees and air, seemed to merge, to become one with the spirit power of life itself."
-from Reason For Hope: A Spiritual Journey
Her revolutionary studies of Tanzania's chimpanzees forever altered our definition of "humanity." Now, intriguing as always, Jane Goodall explores her deepest convictions in a heartfelt memoir that takes her from the London Blitz to Louis Leakey's famous excavations in Africa and then into the forest of Gombe. From the unforgettable moment when a wild chimpanzee gently grasps her hand to the terror of a hostage-taking and the sorrow of her husband's death, her unshakable spiritual beliefs break through to give her life meaning and direction. Here, thoughtfully exploring the challenges of both science and the soul, she offers an inspiring, optimistic message as profound as the knowledge she brought back from the forests, and that gives us all...
The world's most famous, and perhaps most beloved, female scientist has previously related much of her life's outer journey�most notably in In the Shadow of Man and Through a Window, which described her groundbreaking work with the chimpanzees of Gombe, in Africa. In this marvelous book, however, Goodall reveals�with clarity, great passion and purpose�her inner journey. How invigorating it is to read the memoir of a scientist who proclaims frankly, and in language often infused with power and grace (a nod to Goodall's coauthor Berman, author of The Journey Home, etc.), an abiding faith in the sacredness of all life. Goodall, who's 65, covers her entire life here, from her earliest years in England, raised by a strong and loving family, through her apprenticeship under Louis Leakey and her years at Gombe, to her more recent work as an activist for environmental causes and animal rights. There are passages that verge on the mystical ("I and the chimpanzees, the earth and trees and air, seemed to merge, to become one with the spirit power of life itself"), a scattering of not terrific poems and great swaths of rapturous nature writing. The book's tone is highly emotional, sometimes sentimental, but Goodall is no naif. A chapter entitled "The Roots of Evil" describes her shocking discovery of chimps' capacity for cannibalistic attacks on members of their own community; "Death" details her despair at the suffering and demise of her husband, Derek, from cancer. Despite the darkness, however, throughout her life's adventures�and there are enough, in jungle and city, to make this book viscerally as well as morally thrilling�Goodall has nurtured a fundamental understanding that goodness can prevail, with each person's help. This is a moving and inspiring book that will be treasured by all concerned about the fate of the planet and its inhabitants. 16 pp. of b&w photos. Simultaneous Warner AudioBook; author tour. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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Grand Central Publishing
September 30, 2000
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Excerpt from Reason for Hope by Phillip Berman
This is a story about a journey, the journey of one human being through sixty-five years of earth time: my journey. Traditionally, a story begins at the beginning. But what is the beginning? Is it the moment when I was born, with all the charming ugliness of the newborn human baby, in a hospital in London? The first breath I drew so that I could yell about the pain and indignity of my forced expulsion from the womb? Or should we start earlier, in the dark, moist secret place where one little wiggling sperm--one out of millions--managed to burrow into one little ovum--the fertile egg that was biologically, magically, transformed into a baby? But that, really, is not the beginning. For the genes that were handed down to me by my parents were created long, long ago. And my inherited traits were molded by the people and the events surrounding my early years: the characters and position of my parents, the country into which I was born, and the era in which I grew up. So should the story start with my parents, with the historical and social events that shaped Europe in the 1930s, that molded Hitler and Churchill and Stalin? Or perhaps we should go back to the first truly human creature that was born of ape-men parentage, or back to the first little warm-blooded mammal? Or should we go back and back through the mists of unknown time to when the first speck of life appeared on planet earth--as a result of some divine purpose or cosmic accident? From there we could start my story, tracing the strange paths that life has taken: from amoeba, through apes, to minds that can contemplate the existence of a God, and strive to understand the meaning of life on earth and beyond the stars.
I do not want to discuss evolution in such depth, however, only touch on it from my own perspective: from the moment when I stood on the Serengeti plains holding the fossilized bones of ancient creatures in my hands to the moment when, staring into the eyes of a chimpanzee, I saw a thinking, reasoning personality looking back. You may not believe in evolution, and that is all right. How we humans came to be the way we are is far less important than how we should act now to get out of the mess we have made for ourselves. How should the mind that can contemplate God relate to our fellow beings, the other life-forms of the world? What is our human responsibility? And what, ultimately, is our human destiny? It will serve my purpose to begin, simply, from the time when I drew my first breath and screwed up my face to cry my first cry, on April 3, 1934.
Through the years I have encountered people and been involved in events that have had huge impact, knocked off rough corners, lifted me to the heights of joy, plunged me into the depth of sorrow and anguish, taught me to laugh, especially at myself--in other words, my life experiences and the people with whom I shared them have been my teachers. At times I have felt like a helpless bit of flotsam, at one moment stranded in a placid backwater that knew not, cared not, that I was there, then swept out to be hurled about in an unfeeling sea. At other times I felt I was being sucked under by strong, unknowing currents toward annihilation. Yet somehow, looking back through my life, with its downs and its ups, its despairs and its joys, I believe that I was following some overall plan--though to be sure there were many times when I strayed from the course. Yet I was never truly lost. It seems to me now that the flotsam speck was being gently nudged or fiercely blown along a very specific route by an unseen, intangible Wind. The flotsam speck that was--that is--me.