Book covers of Jane Goodall at 90 & The Emotional Lives of Animals, 2024 Revision

Book Reviews: Jane Goodall at 90 & The Emotional Lives of Animals, 2024 Revision

Jane Goodall at 90: Celebrating an Astonishing Lifetime of Science, Advocacy, Humanitarianism, Hope and Peace; Edited by Marc Bekoff & Koen Margodt

Jane Goodall will turn 90 in early April 2024. This book consists of 90 memories or comments (“candles” as termed by the editors) by several of her family (such as her son Grub van Lawick and his children) and others commenting variously on her life, her outlook, and her many contributions to science, conservation, and world peace. There is also an afterword by celebrated photographer Tom Mangelsen, who captures the essence of Jane Goodall and her love for all animals, especially dogs!

As one might expect of a collection of 90 brief essays by a wide variety of authors, the only constant in the book is the ubiquitous presence of Jane Goodall. Anybody interested in nature will likely find many anecdotes or event descriptions that will especially appeal to them. Jane Goodall has had a remarkable academic and celebrity career. The contributed materials in the book bear witness to her ability to engage, charm, and recruit an impressive group of individuals to the cause of great ape conservation and protection and to influence an army of global youth to become Nature ambassadors via the Jane Goodall Institute’s Roots and Shoots program.

For those interested in acquiring a copy, the book is published by Salt Water Media in Berlin, Maryland. It is also, of course, available from Amazon.

Many Happy Returns to Jane on 90 years of following your dream and providing all of us, in living color, a magnificent example of what determination and persistence can achieve

The Emotional Lives of Animals (2024 Revised Edition) by Marc Bekoff

The first edition of this book was published by New World Library in 2007. It has, according to Google Scholar, been cited 1,155 times. This citation level is a most impressive achievement for any academic book, and I suspect it may well have been one of the factoids considered by the publisher when deciding to issue a revised edition. The other impetus to produce a revised edition of the 2007 volume would be the additional evidence available to support the concept of animal emotions seventeen years after the first edition.

Darwin was very interested in animal emotions and collected materials and evidence that animals might have emotions, but he never managed to produce a book-length treatment of the subject. Instead, he left his materials to a colleague, George Romanes, who published two books on Animal Intelligence and the Mental Evolution of Animals in 1883, a year after Darwin’s death. However, Romanes tended to support his theorizing with anecdotal reports rather than empirical tests, and this tendency led to Lloyd Morgan’s development of the warning about the danger of thinking from anecdotes that now carries his name – Morgan’s Canon:

In no case is an animal activity to be interpreted in terms of higher psychological processes, if it can be fairly interpreted in terms of processes which stand lower in the scale of psychological evolution and development.”

While Morgan’s Canon may have prevented the development of exaggerated conclusions about animal thinking and abilities, it also influenced an overly parsimonious approach to interpreting animal behavior and emotions.

The recent edition of Bekoff’s book reports on the rich body of research and observations of animals’ abilities that have emerged since the first edition was published in 2007. That volume was praised for the clarity of its writings and the many examples of animal emotionality that Bekoff described. The new revision includes additional observations (and anecdotes) describing animal emotions. As Bekoff notes, anybody who has spent time with a companion dog will “know” that their canine companion experiences various emotions. However, most humans who share their lives with a canine companion will wonder what they think. Bekoff’s book will not unlock your dog’s thoughts, but it will guide how one might more accurately interpret their feelings and convince the reader of the richness of canine thought and emotion. It is a relatively small step to start looking at other animal species as feeling, emotional creatures.


Note: WellBeing International publishes an academic journal, Animal Sentience, dedicated to furthering research into and understanding animals’ feelings. The journal is open-access, meaning all the articles can be accessed, downloaded, and read without charge. Marc Bekoff has contributed several commentaries to the journal. One of his most recent commentaries expressed his impatience with the slow acceptance of animal feeling and sentience worldwide. 

Translate »