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The Snoring Bird: My Family's Journey…

The Snoring Bird: My Family's Journey Through a Century of Biology (2007)

by Bernd Heinrich

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I came across Heinrich's book on a suggested reading list, and the description got my attention enough that when I found a copy I grabbed it. What I like about The Snoring Bird is that Heinrich doesn't just talk about his own life, but the history of his family - and that spans historical events as well. He works in a lot of information about his work and the scientific world, but in a way that is easy to read. ( )
  SarinaLeigh | Apr 21, 2017 |
A tale of a family's escape from the Russians at the end of World War II to the United States. ( )
  hurricanehob | Nov 6, 2014 |
Heinrich's books on Raven behaivour are characterised, for me at least, by an amazing attention to detail and disciplined method. I was not sure how this would translate when telling his family's story.

I was very very pleasantly surprised at how the style of writing remained consistent with this book and the readability was so incredibly engaging. A wonderful/amazing story, well told. ( )
  rightantler | Jan 6, 2010 |
This was a wonderful read. I have to say it didn't capture me like I hoped, too much meandering around life details (I'm not as into Biographies as I should be I suppose) but the accounts of the adventures were fantastic. Nicely crafted. ( )
  Cygnus555 | May 15, 2009 |
Biologist Bernd Heinrich's The Snoring Bird: My Family's Journey Through a Century in Biology (Ecco, 2007) is an intriguing glimpse into the life of a man perhaps best known for his work with ravens (Ravens in Winter) and hibernation (Winter World). It cannot properly be called an autobiography, as much of the book concerns the life and career of Heinrich's father, an extremely unorthodox fellow whose views about human interaction, biology and life in general come across as more than a little peculiar.

Relying on family memory, documents and other sources as necessary, Heinrich tells his father's story as best he can - from a comfortable life in pre-WWI Poland through a rough time during and after the Second World War through a tenuous post-war existence in Maine. "Papa", who never got a college degree, became an expert in ichneumons (a sort of wasp) and made it his life's (rather obsessive-compulsive) work to classify as many of the worlds' species as he could. To fund his collecting trips around the world, he arranged for European and American institutions to hire him as a specimen collector (usually for birds, mammals and other things).

It's clear that Heinrich still bears some residual bitterness toward his father, whose slights and inattentions to the people around him feature prominently in the book. It made, at times, uncomfortable reading; I felt like I was hearing more than I wanted to know. It's also clear just from Heinrich's description of his own interactions with people over the years that the son inherited at least a few of his father's less orthodox tendencies.

More the story of a family's journey than of a century in biology, this book was most interesting for its descriptions of life in wartime and post-war Europe than anything else. I enjoyed it, but not quite as much as I expected to.

http://philobiblos.blogspot.com/2007/07/book-review-snoring-bird.html ( )
1 vote JBD1 | Jul 25, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060742151, Hardcover)

Although Gerd Heinrich, a devoted naturalist, specialized in wasps, Bernd Heinrich tried to distance himself from his "old-fashioned" father, becoming a hybrid: a modern, experimental biologist with a naturalist's sensibilities.

In this extraordinary memoir, the award-winning author shares the ways in which his relationship with his father, combined with his unique childhood, molded him into the scientist, and man, he is today. From Gerd's days as a soldier in Europe and the family's daring escape from the Red Army in 1945 to the rustic Maine farm they came to call home, Heinrich relates it all in his trademark style, making science accessible and awe-inspiring.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:20 -0400)

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