Feature

6 book recommendations from Bernd Heinrich

The biologist recommends works by Dian Fossey, Loren Eiseley, and more

Bernd Heinrich is a renowned biologist whose two dozen books include Mind of the Raven and A Year in the Maine Woods. In Racing the Clock, his new book, he examines aging through the lens of his decades as a long-distance runner.

No Mercy by Redmond O'Hanlon (1996).

O'Hanlon's account of an epic journey he made into the heart of the Congo to Lake Télé, accompanied by two companions, delivers nonstop adventure. It switches from sorcerers to scientists, dreads to dreams, biology to sociology. There is no holding back. Buy it here.

The Mottled Lizard by Elspeth Huxley (1962).

Those who live or travel in Africa may wonder what life was once like there. Huxley's vivid and moving memoir describes, in evocative prose, growing up in Kikuyu country in Kenya. It reminds you of what was, and what can be. Buy it here.

Gorillas in the Mist by Dian Fossey (1983).

Fossey's classic account of studying gorillas as individuals in Virunga National Park, over 15 years, is a classic. Fossey, a biologist, changed our minds forever about these noble primates, and she was still living among them when she was murdered in 1985. Buy it here.

The Rise of Wolf 8 by Rick McIntyre (2019).

Wolf No. 8, in Yellowstone Park, was a runt of his pack who rose to become the alpha. This incredible story is the result of McIntyre's dogged and renowned close following of the Yellowstone wolves and their ecosystem after wolves were reintroduced to the park in 1995. Buy it here.

The Journey Home by Edward Abbey (1977).

The American West has long been a big topic for those of the East, and Pennsylvania native Edward Abbey chose it as his eventual home. In this book, Abbey considers some of his previous writing about the West. He professes an inability to maintain "a constant level of high thinking," disavows any claim to being a naturalist, and says he has a "yearning for the howling wilderness we call modern American life." Buy it here.

The Unexpected Universe by Loren Eiseley (1969).

This is a book of intellectual explorations of both the known and the unknown, and hence unexpected, universe, which geneticist J.B.S. Haldane once said "may not only be greater than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose." Eiseley's ruminations engendered wonder a half-century ago, and they do so more than ever now. Buy it here.

This article was first published in the latest issue of The Week magazine. If you want to read more like it, you can try six risk-free issues of the magazine here.

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