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Reason for Hope: A Spiritual Journey
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195 of 206 people found the following review helpful
on November 29, 1999
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
In this rich and rewarding autobiographical journey - from infant to wizened woman in her sixth decade - Jane Goodall shares her life-defining experiences including her mentorship by Louis Leakey, the observations of chimpanzees that made her famous, and her significant relationships. The reader is right there with her through learning experiences and personal struggles and may be surprised to know about the difficulties and sacrifices even the lucky, gifted and famous have to make. Jane Goodall frequently calls on her grandmother's favorite scripture for comfort in inclement times, "as thy days, so shall thy strength be." Goodall's accounts and insightful realizations give courage and perspective for dealing with the hardship and obstacles in our own lives.
One of the things I value most about this book is that Goodall addresses ethical and spiritual dimensions of science and conservation. Most scientists do not publicly discuss these larger ethical dilemmas or they sometimes engage in them but lose perspective in balancing human needs with those of other living creatures. Jane Goodall is not only willing and able to discuss these complex dimensions, but the outcome is helpful and thought-provoking.
If I were a professor in any of the sciences (esp. biology, genetics, and environmental studies) or ethics, I would leap at the opportunity to make this required reading. In her broad and clear way, Jane Goodall touches on many of the key issues and interrelations that scientists (budding or established) need to be aware of but will not find in a science textbook. We, as students and concerned individuals, need to know about the Jane Goodalls, Rosalind Franklins, and Einsteins in addition to the Watsons and Cricks so we can visualize the full range of options for how we live and the kind of science we do.
Some people have been lucky enough to know all along that they can have both their science and their religion (in some religions, the harmony of science and religion are explicit, such as in the Baha'i Faith), their compassion and a keen desire for intellectual investigation, scientific research and problem solving. Goodall is one of these people, and it is wonderful to have a respected thinker like her showing that the two seemingly dichotomous realities can blend harmoniously and that it is not always inappropriate for a scientist to also be civically active. Of course, some level of detachment and impartiality must be maintained in scientific research, but this other element of human compassion and civic responsibility needs to be increasingly recognized, emphasized, and cultivated.
While Goodall's periodic discussions of spirituality and ethics may seem unusual subject matter for many traditional science environments, scientists and students will appreciate the opportunity this book offers to broach these subjects in a planned and meaningful way. There is something unthreatening and inclusive in the way Goodall finds value in religious traditions beyond her own, and this feature makes "Reason for Hope" an especially good candidate for required reading in academia. In contrast to books like "The Double Helix," Goodall's sensitivity and same-era research into another genetics-related area provide a needed counterpoint to the attitudes of competition and exclusion that characterized the discovery of DNA. Different models of scientific exploration, different kinds of scientist. Both will be encountered, and both are important to know about.
Readers of all ages can find a hero and a role model in Jane Goodall. Her books for young adults and children have inspired me even as a 23 year old, and I have since given copies of "My Life with the Chimpanzees" as gifts to children as young as 9. Jane Goodall is a remarkable human being with heart, compassion, strong communication skills, and unflagging commitment to chimp research, improving the lot of humans, animals, and all of the life on our planet. The vision and persistence she lends to those tasks are making a wide impact, not only on Westerners, but also on African children and communities at multiple socio-economic levels. People who are working to make a difference are among Goodall's "reasons for hope," the sincere, caring and visionary Yous and Mes of all countries and backgrounds.
Goodall's fresh perspectives illumine things I already knew about and reveal many things I did not know before. Her beautiful command of the English language, vivid descriptions and compelling viewpoints will appeal to the artist, nature-lover, and poet and her sincere spirit speaks poignantly to further engage and delight the rest of us. Female scientists and concerned citizens will be among the most appreciative audience.
I read "Reason for Hope" in one long sitting -- only interrupted by dinner on this Thanksgiving eve. It felt as though Jane Goodall had taken the time to have a powerful, absorbing, and stimulating conversation with me the reader. I say conversation because going with her on her life's journey caused me to reflect simultaneously on my own. She realized her most cherished childhood dreams. Can we all? For Jane Goodall's gift of time and energy, I feel honored and grateful. She has this effect, and because of this valuable "conversation," I feel more dedicated to my own path of service to humanity. I highly recommend this book to anyone.
By the way ... don't miss the breathtaking color photograph on the inside front cover!
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
Jane Goodall reaches out to all who care for the earth and living things. Those involved in nature causes know the phenomenon of seeing so much irreparable wrong that life and effort begin to seem futile. Here is a book with at least a temporary antidote for depair. Goodall is not and does not pretend to be a great prose stylist. Maybe the simple straightforward words serve to advance her points. Her frank examination of a lifetime of ideas about spirituality is lit with sincerity, courage, and a willingness to share her most beautiful and moving moments. We return to the old question: what is spiritual, really? Does it have to do with churches or with moments of beauty and love given to us in nature and with those near to our hearts? She is not a Pollyanna, however, and shares with us enough of the dark of human behavior and the modern world to let us know she sees the same world we do. Thus, when she goes on to assert her belief in hope and the worth of continuing to act toward a better world, we have to listen and try in our hearts whether, even in the face of what we know to be true, we cannot learn again to believe. Most movingly, she admits that in accepting the imperative to do what she can to make a difference, she has had to give up the precious golden hours she once spent with the chimps. Even after her beautiful descriptions of those early magical times, we can only glimpse the poignant loss that this must be for her. Herein is the example set for all those of us who have had those moving and holy moments with nature: that from those to whom much has been given, much is to be expected. Only we have the certainty and experience it takes to stand in the face of apparent futility and fight, even though we might prefer to hide in the woods until they're all cut down. Were we given these blessings because we deserve them, or because we might then want to pass them on to those who come after? Jane Goodall has taken the noble path of love and compassion.
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66 of 76 people found the following review helpful
on September 17, 1999
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Reason for Hope: A Spiritual Journey, by Jane Goodall with Phillip Berman, Warner Books, 1999, New York. by Marc Bekoff Reason for Hope is an amazing book by a most-amazing woman. Jane Goodall's autobiography is easy to read and will appeal to people of all ages. She writes about highly personal issues and reflects on science, religion, and spirituality. Goodall is clearly a "Jane of all trades and master of many." She wears many hats and she wears them well. Goodall is a naturalist at heart, can do multivariate statistics, write about God and spirituality, be a faithful and committed mother and wife, and find time tirelessly to share her experiences world-wide. There is so much between its covers that one can only offer a glimpse of the numerous topics that are considered in Reason for Hope. This very personal book touches on diverse issues ranging from practical matters we all face daily to more philosophical questions concerning the meaning of life and spirituality. We learn about the events in Goodall's development that led to her views of the world, the incredible importance of family and friends, her work with Louis Leakey (her incredulity when he chose her to begin studies of chimpanzees although, and perhaps because, she had no formal training and no degree), field studies of chimpanzee behavior, conservation biology, environmental ethics, evolution and its relationship to creationism, cultural evolution, the agonizing death of Goodall's husband, Derek, the ins and outs of how much science is done behind the scenes, science and politics, and how so many scientists shy away from confronting the ethical issues that are raised by "doing science." Goodall also learned that naming animals and describing their personalities (I think that "animalities" might have been more acceptable terms) was taboo in science, but because she had not been to university she did not know this. She "thought it was silly and paid no attention." In an interesting story, Goodall notes how fortunate she was when her mother, Vanne, found she had taken a whole handful of worms to bed at 10 months old she did not throw them out, but quietly told Jane they would die without earth, so she toddled with them back into the little garden outside their London apartment. In many ways Vanne is no less amazing than her daughter. In her mid-fifties, Vanne joined Jane on her initial journey into the wilds, leaving for five months a nice peaceful existence in England. Goodall also relates how her novel observations of tool-use in chimpanzees, which were responsible for redefining what is it to be human ("Man the toolmaker" no longer was tenable, tool use did not separate humans from other animals), were looked upon with skepticism by people who thought she was untrained to do the work she was doing, many of whom had never left their ivory tower or seen a wild animal. Photographs of tool use subsequently squelched their concerns. Goodall also ponders evil, warfare, love, and hope, and writes about such notions as reincarnation and the meaning of time and space. She also wonders if she should have brought a child into what many call a hopeless world. Goodall fearlessly discusses how science, intuition, religion, and spirituality merge. Few scientists ever attempt to walk in fields in which she strolls comfortably. Goodall claims, rightfully, that "Science does not have the appropriate tools for the dissection of the spirit." But perhaps changing our views of science will help us along. Goodall is also an accomplished poet and sprinkles some of her works throughout. Goodall also espouses how words, used as labels, can lessen an experience, make it too rational. She notes "Words are part of our rational selves, and to abandon them for a while is to give freer reign to our intuitive selves" What is so appealing about this book is that Goodall does not profess to be an expert in such matters of time and space or in such areas as moral philosophy and religion. Rather, she shows how questions that seem so irrelevant to many scientists are, in fact, highly relevant to the way they go about their business. And, a message that comes out loudly and clearly throughout is that after all is said and done, Goodall is a human being before all, a mortal made of flesh and blood. Just like all us, Goodall can cry, laugh uncontrollably, and most importantly, laugh at herself. So, what are Goodall's reasons for (3) the energy and enthusiasm that is found or can be kindled among young worldwide; and (4) the indomitable human spirit. Everybody can make a difference, and it is the little things we do for others that count so much. Goodall obviously loves what she does. She enters her standing-room-only lectures carrying her stuffed animal buddy Mr. H and begins by emitting a walloping pant-hoot. People laugh and then relax. Goodall then begins quietly to talk about her work and the world at large. Her audience is eerily silent. Goodall speaks softly with confidence, but carries a big stick. She also is light and sprinkles serious discourse with down-home humor. Goodall is not a quitter. Most people expected her to leave her difficult and dangerous field work after a few weeks, but she is now entering her fortieth year of research! She is unrelenting in carrying messages of hope across the planet. Just as she stills her audiences so will this book still you. There is no better model for us to follow as we head into the millennium and beyond. Reason for Hope is one of the most important books of the century. Marc Bekoff teaches in Environmental, Population, and Organismic Biology at CU-Boulder. He is editor of Encyclopedia of Animal Rights and Animal Welfare, for which Dr. Goodall wrote the Foreword
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on August 15, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I just returned home after seeing Jane Goodall speak at Chautauqua, NY. After her inspiring and life changing (for me) speech, I bought this book and found it to be just as wonderful and moving as her speech.
This book made me rethink they way I was leading my life and resolve to change for the better. She uses the story of her fascinating life with the chimps at Gombe to argue against the 'justmeism' prevalent in today's society.(Its just me--how can I make a difference) It made me understand that there is no reason why I can't use my purchasing power to influence companies to treat animals more humanely and to care for our environment.
I loved her thought of humans being in a time of 'moral evolution'. It really made me feel that we do have a higher purpose in life and should be trying to live our lives the most compassionate way we can.
I've already told my friends about her book and her message and they have been inspired as well. I hope everyone picks up a copy of this book and is moved the way I was. I, too, understand her reasons for worrying about our future and her reasons to hope.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
Of all the book's this incredible woman has written containing her inner-most thoughts and feelings, this one is by far my favourite. In "Reason for Hope" Goodall reveals her outlook on life and touches on spirituality in a deeper light than seen in her other writings. She looks at humanity, our past mistakes and our reasons for hope. So much of this book reminds me of Buddhist philosophies, and the importance of sharing our compassion with the world. This life is not our destination or reason for being; it is merely the vehicle which carries us through this part of our journey - the part where we must give all that we can of ourselves to help others.
Goodall is well-known as an advocate in protecting chimpanzees but she does not stop there. She helps the reader to understand why we, as individuals, must speak up and do whatever good we can to protect all animals and to better ourselves as human beings. As a consumer, we need to do speak out against the use of animals in inhumane experiments and labratory testing. It is not enough to read of animal abuse and silently sit back and say, "Isn't that terrible." We, as humans, need to take a pro-active approach and voice our opinions, loud and clear to companies, organizations, legislators with a clear-cut message that says, "Animal abuse, like child abuse, cannot and will not be tolerated in our society." Goodall is a woman who stands firmly in her beliefs and has the courage to speak out for what she believes in.
While this book reveals a darker, more serious spiritual side to Goodall, the reader will be left with a better understanding of this incredible woman and her relentless devotion to protecting, not only chimpanees, but all animals. "Reason for Hope" takes the reader on a journey into the spiritual side of this, renowned, enigmatic, decisive woman wih a passion for the chimps at Gombe.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on July 21, 2008
Format: Paperback
I enjoyed Jane's conversational style and the vivid descriptions of the scenic landscapes which highlighted important spiritual moments and exciting discoveries in her life. A nice parallel forms between the scientific and the spiritual when she begins to makes her revolutionary behavioral studies on chimps in Gombe. What should strike any reader is the opportunity that Jane was able to access through hard work and determination. Jane was without a college degree when she began her work with the chimps supported by Dr. Leaky. It was her character that mattered. The book can ramble or become tedious but Janes work is clearly so brilliant as is her knowledge of philosophy and evolution that it kept me pasted. She forms a positive outlook based on the hope that humans will evolve morally before they destroy themselves and countless other life forms.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on July 23, 2004
Format: Paperback
When it comes to issues concerning animals and the environment, most people have a hard time staying cool. But from the minute I heard Jane Goodall speak back in my freshman year of college, to the second I finished reading this book, I knew that I'd found a new role model--A gentle, contemplative, and fiercely intelligent role model.

It's Jane Goodall's calm, sensitive approach to effecting change that made her life extraordinary, and made Reason for Hope a pleasure to read. In this book she tells a story, woven with memories, lessons learned, and quiet introspection.

From her blissful youth overshadowed by World War II, to her peaceful days in Gombe surrounded by violence, Jane struggled to understand the sharp contrast between her life and those of others. Her compassion was not limited to people--it was amplified by her love of animals and appreciation for nature.

But you'll never find Jane Goodall protesting on the streets. You'll never find her raiding animal laboratories in the middle of the night and freeing its prisoners. Instead, you'll see her chatting quietly with the "bad guys," sharing her experiences in such a humble and non-threatening way that they don't even realize how much it's changed the way they see things. Jane has the ability to take a step back and analyze her observations logically without losing sight of or being overcome by the emotions that started it all. She writes:

"Real change will come only from within; laws and regulations are useful, but sadly easy to flout. So I keep the anger--which of course I feel--as hidden and controlled as possible. I try to reach gently into their hearts" (p. 270)

This is what makes her unique among most of the scientists and activists we see today.

--Not that her story will resonate with everyone. Even I didn't identify with some of her religious speculations, or the little poems scattered throughout the book. I was particularly put off by her call for a "moral society," driven by her belief that "We will have to evolve, all of us, from ordinary, everyday human beings--into saints! Ordinary people, like you and me, will have to become saints, or at least mini-saints" (p. 200). It's not that I don't believe it's possible--I just don't think turning 6 billion people into saints is the most effective way to go about doing things.

Then again, what I appreciate most about Jane Goodall is her approach, and not necessarily the beliefs that underlie them. In dealing with issues that are so often drenched with emotions, Jane Goodall remains an example of how to handle things both gracefully and objectively. This is something we could all stand to learn.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on February 28, 2006
Format: Paperback
After a lifetime unraveling the mysteries of wild chimpanzees, renowned primatologist Jane Goodall bares her soul to readers, describing the spiritual underpinnings that have shaped her life, her work, and her outlook for the future.

Goodall has always defied scientific convention. Untrained as a scientist, but noticed by famed anthropologist Louis Leakey as a keen observer and a self-taught naturalist, Goodall was sent into the forests of Tanzania as a young woman to conduct a study of the chimpanzees. With her mother at her side and a cook to accompany them, Goodall began the research that would span her entire career and help reshape the way humans look at and study wild animals.

Reason for Hope chronicles Goodall's early years in war-torn England, the horrors of the Holocaust, and her years observing wild apes. It also records family joys and despairs, unsettling discoveries about our closest living relatives, and, eventually, the turmoil of witnessing nearby war, environmental destruction, and the plight of chimpanzees in medical laboratories.

As the title suggests, the power of this book lies in its optimism. Faced, at times, with more plights than possibilities, Goodall falls back on her own particular brand of faith to make sense of a harsh world. Her final chapters, a call to action, asks readers to join her in taking concrete steps toward making the world a better place for all animals, people included.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon September 26, 2002
Format: Paperback
Reason For Hope outlines Jane Goodall's life and her philosophy, and provides a summary of what she believes, why she believes it, and how she came to believe it. I was a bit skeptical when I began this book, but quickly became a convert to much of Ms Goodall's philosophy and outlook when it became rather obvious that her insights were tested by, and developed through, the many trials of her life as a scientist and a publicist. Goodall gives a charming and succinct view of how her interests in primatology developed, how she remained positive despite personal tragedy and the environmental depradations in her beloved Africa, and why we should cultivate a concern about life.
I was most impressed by how Ms Goodall's insights were carefully nurtured through intense patience and keen observation. She does not come by her insights cheaply, and has made an enviable blend of rationalism and empiricism. She notes many similarities between humanity and the higher primates, such as an innate cruelty (which can be overridden, but only with difficulty), an understandable but often fiercely destructive "herd mentality," and a tendency to favor optimism and joyfulness in our acquaintances. She makes a convincing argument that an appreciation of other life forms can enhance --not degrade-- our humanity. Finally, Ms Goodall argues that each one of us can make a positive difference in how we live, for the betterment of ourselves and others.
I was impressed with how this productive and innovative scientist shows how science can be ethically progressive and "spiritually" meaningful. I can't think of anyone I would not recommend it to. Her book is a wonderful gift to her readers and to life.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
I was one of those kids who was just at an age to be fascinated by the National Geographic when Ms. Goodall's first article was published in it. I looked at the pictures, yes, but then went beyond them to the remarkable text about her remarkable experiences. I eagerly gobbled up each new installment of her life among the chimps of Gombe.
As a college student in communication disorders, my early interest in primates that was spawned by her work reasserted itself, when I did my senior paper on the chimp language studies being done at that time, taking an anthropological point of view. I had thought maybe one day I would find myself following chimps through the African forests. I have been to Africa, but have not seen the chimps, though that may yet happen.
This is a book written by a very public woman who has maintained a very private personal life. I was especially interested to see what she had to say about religion and science, and more than anyone else I have read, she embodied the true sense of what it means to be spiritual. Her description of the vivid experiences she had upon the death of loved ones, and her eventual healing and acceptance of what life had dealt her, was particularly poignant and inspiring. Her views of what is really important in this world are clearly shaped by her unique experience among the chimpanzee community at Gombe, but she elucidates so clearly these values for all to consider.
Most amazing to me, however, is her willingness to accept the call she felt to leave her beloved Gombe behind most of the time to travel the world, hoping to create change in our attitudes and specific practices that harm animals and the environment. Any of us who have felt the pull from something we love to take us into action can relate to the strength of her convictions. I am so inspired by this book, in fact, that I have already begun to explore how I might start one of her "Roots and Shoots" programs for kids at the school where I teach. There are not many books that stir in me an almost immediate response like that.
If you have an interest in Ms. Goodall, in her work with chimps, in the relationship between science and religion, or in how one person might begin to work for change, this book will not disappoint. Her clear, direct voice about her purpose on this planet is refreshing and inspiring.
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