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Book Review: In the Shadow of Man

Title: In the Shadow of Man
Author: Jane Goodall
Genre: Informational Nonfiction
Rating: 4 out of 5
Reviewer: Julia

Although this is one of Jane Goodall's earlier publications on her study of chimpanzees, and therefore is older, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Some people may stray away from this book because this is nonfiction, but I can say with confidence that those people are missing out on something great.

In this wonderfully-crafted book, Jane Goodall takes readers on a journey on how she began her study, which glides into the actual research that she has done. As I began to learn more and more about the chimpanzees in which Goodall describes, I could notice how she too was learning about them and how to properly study them. This made me feel more comfortable as a reader to know that I wasn't the only one to not be knowledgeable in the subject.

Perhaps you still aren't sold on reading this book. Is it because you still have a bias against nonfiction books? Well, I suppose I shall let you in on a secret. This book is more like a book of stories than a textbook. Rather than labeling chimpanzees as a set of numbers or giving no names at all, Jane Goodall gave cute and memorable names. Personally, I fell in love with almost every chimpanzee described in the book, and actually got rather upset when I learned of the deaths of a few. (Yes, warning: this book contains deaths, nothing too gory.) In my opinion, these chimpanzees (David Graybeard, Flo, Fifi, Olly, Gilka...just to name a few) are described in the chapters in such a way that it is near impossible to not fall in love with at least one. As you continue to read, not only are you learning about the personalities of the chimpanzees, but you are also learning about chimpanzee behavior. Jane Goodall is very descriptive, and her use of words makes the book enjoyable. (I especially enjoyed her use of the word "rump".) Some of the events described will keep you on the edge of your seat, and others will make you smile. (Whenever I read in public I'm almost sure some might have wondered why I was so happy or stressed over a book on chimpanzees.) Still, I found myself becoming more familiar with the normal chimpanzee behavior. So, in other words, you are still learning, but you are doing it in a "fun" way.

Overall, this book is truly wonderful. By the time that I finished reading its 257-or-so pages, while I was glad that I finished reading the thick book that it is, I was also a bit sad. Not a bad sad, but a good sad. I was sad in the way that you feel after completing a good book.

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Check out another book review, Book Review: The Light Between Oceans!
"Okay, I'm not sure if I'm allowed to give a book infinity out of 5, but I'm going to do it because this book was that good. I have never cried so much or intensely over a single book. (I cried throughout the book and in one consistent stream for the last 50 pages.) I am so in love with it that..." Read more


  1. Sounds great - I have long been a Jane Goodall fan!


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