Synopses & Reviews
“Bernd Heinrich is one of the finest naturalists of our time. Life Everlasting
shines with the authenticity and originality that are unique to a life devoted to natural history in the field.”—Edward O. Wilson, author of The Future of Life
and The Social Conquest of Earth
How does the animal world deal with death? And what ecological and spiritual lessons can we learn from examining this? Bernd Heinrich has long been fascinated by these questions, and when a good friend with a terminal illness asked if he might have his “green burial” at Heinrich’s hunting camp in Maine, it inspired the acclaimed biologist and author to investigate. Life Everlasting is the fruit of those investigations, illuminating what happens to animals great and small after death.
From beetles to bald eagles, ravens to wolves, Heinrich reveals the fascinating and mostly hidden post-death world that occurs around us constantly, while examining the ancient and important role we too play as scavengers, connecting death to life.
"Despite focusing on death and decay, Life Everlasting is far from morbid; instead, it is life-affirming . . . convincing the reader that physical demise is not an end to life, but an opportunity for renewal."—Nature
“A worldwide tour of the role of death in nature that is consistently fascinating and fun to read.”—Seattle Times
"In this slim but moving volume, physiological ecologist Heinrich (Mind of the Raven) draws upon his intimate knowledge of the natural world to examine the role of death and decay in the earth's 'web of life.' Inspired by a friend's request to have a 'green burial' at the scientist's hunting camp in Maine, Heinrich riffs on the concept that 'we come from life, and we are a conduit into other life,' drawing anecdotes from his decades of fieldwork and academic research. Dead matter the bodies of mice, deer, elephants, whales, trees feeds vast populations of organisms: beetles execute their elaborate feeding and mating rituals on rotting corpses; roadkill feeds birds, coyotes, bears; primitive humans consumed elephants while dung beetles glean nutrients from their waste; insects and fungus turn felled trees into new soil. 'The metaphor that we are part of the earth ecosystem is not a belief; it is a reality,' Heinrich writes. This engaging and thoughtful book makes the case that this truth is not only scientifically relevant but personally, and spiritually, too: by looking to nature, humans can 'transcend individual deaths,' and find a deeper meaning in our earthly existence. Agent: TK. (June)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Bernd Heinrich receives a letter from a severely ill friend asking if he might have a "green burial" at Heinrich's hunting camp, and the acclaimed biologist/author sets out to explore exactly how the animal world deals with the death-to-life cycle and what we can learn from the process, both ecologically and spiritually.
From one of the finest naturalist/writers of our time, a fascinating investigation of Natureand#8217;s inspiring death-to-life cycle
When a good friend with a severe illness wrote, asking if he might have his and#8220;green burialand#8221; at Bernd Heinrichand#8217;s hunting camp in Maine, it inspired the acclaimed biologist to investigate a subject that had long fascinated him. How exactly does the animal world deal with the flip side of the life cycle? And what are the lessons, ecological to spiritual, raised by a close look at how the animal world renews itself? Heinrich focuses his wholly original gaze on the fascinating doings of creatures most of us would otherwise turn away fromand#8212;field mouse burials conducted by carrion beetles; the communication strategies of ravens, and#8220;the premier northern undertakersand#8221;; and the and#8220;inadvertent teamworkand#8221; among wolves and large cats, foxes and weasels, bald eagles and nuthatches in cold-weather dispersal of prey. Heinrich reveals, too, how and where humans still play our ancient and important role as scavengers, thereby turningand#8212;not dust to dustand#8212;but life to life.
Praise for Life Everlasting: The Animal Way of Death
“If it has not been clear to readers by now, this book confirms that Bernd Heinrich is one of the finest naturalists of our time. Life Everlasting shines with the authenticity and originality that are unique to a life devoted to natural history in the field.”—Edward O. Wilson, author of The Future of Life and The Social Conquest of Earth
Praise for Mind of the Raven: Investigations and Adventures with Wolf-Birds
“Bernd Heinrich is one of the finest living examples of that strange hybrid: the science writer . . . No definition of God has ever made me feel as comfortable, small and important in the universe as Heinrichs insight into the mind of the raven.”— Los Angeles Times Book Review
Praise for Winter World: The Ingenuity of Animal Survival
“Heinrich, who combines his keen scientific eye with the soul of a poet, glimpses an entirely different realm, one filled with wondrous activities both above and below the seemingly lifeless countryside . . . Heinrichs descriptions of his travels in the forest are intoxicating . . . Each chapter in the book is a gemlike essay (beautifully illustrated with the authors own line drawings).”—New York Times Book Review
About the Author
BERND HEINRICH is an acclaimed scientist and the author of numerous books, including the best-selling Winter World, Mind of the Raven, Why We Run, and The Homing Instinct. He writes for Scientific American, Outside, American Scientist, and Audubon, and has published book reviews and op-eds for the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. Among Heinrich's many honors is the 2013 PEN New England Award for Nonfiction, for Life Everlasting. He lives in Maine.
Table of Contents
I. SMALL TO LARGE
Beetles That Bury Miceand#8194;3
Sendoff for a Deerand#8194;21
The Ultimate Recycler: Remaking the Worldand#8194;37
II. NORTH TO SOUTH
Northern Winter: For the Birdsand#8194;59
The Vulture Crowdand#8194;75
III. PLANT UNDERTAKERS
Trees of Lifeand#8194;99
IV. WATERY DEATHS
Metamorphosis into a New Life and Livesand#8194;169
Beliefs, Burials, and Life Everlastingand#8194;179