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Life Everlasting
Cover of Life Everlasting
Life Everlasting
The Animal Way of Death
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An enlightening look at animal behavior and the cycle of life and death, from "one of the finest naturalists of our time" (Edward O. Wilson). When a good friend with a severe illness wrote, asking if...
An enlightening look at animal behavior and the cycle of life and death, from "one of the finest naturalists of our time" (Edward O. Wilson). When a good friend with a severe illness wrote, asking if...
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  • An enlightening look at animal behavior and the cycle of life and death, from "one of the finest naturalists of our time" (Edward O. Wilson).

    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, imparted 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.

    "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 Meaning of Human Existence and The Social Conquest of Earth

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, The Homing Instinct, and One Wild Bird at a Time. Among Heinrich's many honors is the 2013 PEN New England Award in nonfiction for Life Everlasting. He resides in Maine.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    March 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. Agent: TK.

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    Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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