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Life Everlasting

The Animal Way of Death

Bernd Heinrich

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Description

From one of the finest naturalist/writers of our time, a fascinating investigation of Nature’s inspiring death-to-life cycle

When a good friend with a severe illness wrote, asking if he might have his “green burial” at Bernd Heinrich’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 from—field mouse burials conducted by carrion beetles; the communication strategies of ravens, “the premier northern undertakers”; and the “inadvertent teamwork” 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 turning—not dust to dust—but life to life.

Publishers Weekly Review

Mar 26, 2012 – 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.

Customer Reviews

Good, but a decline

When presenting problems of biology, this is everything I love about Heinrich's books. The philosophical, anthropological, and political musings were tiring though. I'll continue to recommend Mind of the Raven, Summer World, and Winter World.

Life Everlasting

Another fine and interesting book by Bernd Hindrich.

Life Everlasting
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  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Nature
  • Published: Jun 19, 2012
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Seller: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company
  • Print Length: 256 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.5 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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