Thursday, January 31, 2013

Africa In My Blood - Jane Goodall & Dale Peterson

Africa In My Blood is an extraordinary self-portrait, in letters and commentary, of Jane Goodall's early years, from childhood to the landmark publication of In the Shadow of Man. It reveals this remarkable woman more vividly and clearly than anything that has been published before, by her or about her. We see Goodall grow from a schoolgirl into the promising young candidate whom the legendary Louis Leakey sent to a wildlife preserve on the shores of Lake Tanganyika to undertake a revolutionary study of chimpanzees. At Gombe we see her immerse herself in the lives of wild animals as no one had done before. 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.
Before reading this book, Jane Goodall had always just been "that monkey lady" to me - little did I know, chimps and monkeys aren't even the same species! The book taught me a lot about Jane (and chimps), but it could have been far briefer.

The early letters were rather boring and dry, although it was evident from a young age that she was fascinated by animals. Where the book really picked up and hooked me was when Jane was finally sent out to the reserve. After that point, I was engrossed.

Jane's voice and passion shine through in every letter - be it personal or professional. It was hard not to share in her excitement.

I'd recommend this book to anyone who wants to peer in to Jane Goodall's personal life and early career. If you can survive the first half, the second half is well worth it.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Pedophilia: A Cause and A Cure - Steve A. Mizera

Steve A. Mizera reveals what life in orphanages was like for him in the middle 1940s and 1950s Pennsylvania. After suffering physical, emotional and sexual abuse, he runs away and lives on the streets of Philadelphia. His survival techniques could serve as an operating manual for today's runaways.
A product of a dysfunctional family and not having any bonding in infancy, he predictably has little success with relationships in the USAF or in employment. Nevertheless with this handicap he starts a weekly newspaper in a small northern California town and vents his anger while taking on the establishment. Believing the pen is mightier than the sword, he conducts his battles while attending law school and working as a conductor on the railroad.

Steve reveals his deepest secrets for a very personal reason and discusses a despicable crime for which he has to learn survival once again in Folsom State prison, the most violent US prison in the 1980s.

In his final chapters of his life he does experience both solid relationships and love which turn his life around completely.

I couldn't finish this book. I expected it to be an interesting enough autobiography but it was written without any kind of flair. It felt like reading a list of facts, not a story.

I understand that in an autobiography you want to keep it accurate and factual but that does not mean you can't still tell it like a story rather than simply listing occurrences.

I'm sure Mizera has a fascinating tale to tell but I just could not get into it.