Memoirs don’t usually strike me as fast paced and action packed, but this one was. From stories of specimen collecting in Africa to the account of two women’s flight from the Red Army after WWII with two toddlers in tow, this story is breathtaking. I found it difficult to put down.
I initially picked up this book after reading The Mind of the Raven by the same author. It left me intrigued about Bernd Heinrich’s story — what sort of person spends his life studying wildlife with such intensity — even to the point of physical hardship? As I made my way through the pages of this narrative, I found that Bernd’s story couldn’t be fully understood without the history of his family as well. The memoir is equally about the author’s father — an avid taxonomist who lived in Germany during both world wars and eventually immigrated to America. I found it to be riveting on many levels: as a glimpse into the life of a German family during the first half of the twentieth century, as an account of two men whose lives were committed to the natural world around them despite the changing trends and practices of the scientific world, and most of all as a vivid portrait of remarkable people living out lives that would seem utterly implausible in the pages of a novel.