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

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

Bernd Heinrich

Language: English

Pages: 512

ISBN: 006074216X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


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.

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manner that is unworthy of Sparta. —“COME, O KING OF THE LACEDEMONIANS,” CONSTANTINE P. CAVAFY IT WAS “RUSH WEEK” IN THE PHI ETA HOUSE, near the beginning of the semester. Everyone was walking around with a beer in hand. Everyone was talking, too, but I didn’t know what to say. One of the brothers came over to check me out, maybe so that he would have something to report at the house meeting, which would be held after we would-be pledges left. I knew that the impression I made would be

wonder whether any of us would use these industrial killing tools if all of our victims were lined up in front of us and we were forced to look them in the eyes? It would be possible only through the mechanism of hate—that, and our huge capacity for denial and self-delusion. It’s all part of our innate human biological heritage, which helps us to justify what we do, and still maintain our sanity, and sometimes to even think we deserve medals for it. Shortly after the execution of the two

her heart of hearts, the lesson, that the foundation of morality is to have done, once and for all, with lying; to give up pretending to believe that for which there is no evidence, and repeating unintelligible propositions about things beyond the possibilities of knowledge. The problem is that the possibilities of knowledge for an individual are extremely finite. We are forced to make the best of it by having trust in at least some authority. I believe in baseball scores (because, as someone

Unfortunately, he had been born in Berlin; this meant that he was German and as such might not be welcome on the piece of earth he felt bound to as his home. Fearing that he might be expelled from Borowke, he traveled to Torún to plead his case for Polish citizenship before “an elderly, friendly gentleman with a full whitish beard and mild-looking eyes” named Brejski who was the governor or wojewoda of the local government district, called a pomorze. Pleading for leniency, Papa, who spoke Polish,

could not be done. I insisted, and finally told him that I would report him for hampering the production of much-needed food. This helped, and I was able to take Kowalewski with me, saving his life. The leader of the extermination camp later committed suicide. From what I learned later, I have the impression that these camps were well known, but for self-preservation, they were a taboo topic. The German population, including the army, was deliberately screened from the atrocities that were

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