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

4.20  ·  Rating Details  ·  357 Ratings  ·  61 Reviews
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 childhoo
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ebook, 512 pages
Published October 6th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published 2007)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,053)
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Beth Maddaus
Feb 12, 2009 Beth Maddaus rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nature
Up until December, 2007, I thought that the blogosphere was a place for people to discuss their political interests or their health concerns and since I had neither, I had never ventured in. But, a conversation one night at a dinner party with Amity peaked my interest. The next day, I discovered that I could search for blogs through igoogle using keywords. Well, I had just finished reading The Winter World for the third time and decided to search blogs using the author's name. I typed in Bernd H ...more
Beth
Jan 19, 2016 Beth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 — ev
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Joanna
This is an amazing book. It covers a lot of ground, and does so thoroughly. I enjoyed reading about the author's father's coming of age and history, and learned a lot about World War I while doing so. I learned a lot about taxidermy, and natural history, and wasps, and Expeditions. Then we moved into the story of the family, and as Bernd was growing up I was fascinated by the experiences he had as a young boy growing up in as an immigrant American. It was especially fun to read about Maine and V ...more
Linda
Aug 03, 2008 Linda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So engrossing that I've already ordered two other titles by Bernd Heinrich from the library: "Mind of the Raven," and "Ravens in Winter." And so engrossing that I finished all 461 pages (including every footnote and reference, cutline, intro and epilogue) in four nights of staying up late reading.

Bernd Heinrich's memoir combines high drama with astute observation and attention to detail, especially in the natural world. It's ostensibly the story of his father's charmed life on an almost magical
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Maggie
Fascinating and wide ranging. Natural history, WWII Poland/Germany, growing up in Maine, studying the temperature regulation of bees, the cataloging of wasps, running for 24 hours. So much.

I do wish I could find a recording of the "distinctive seven-note Heinrich whistle" that the family used as signal when separated in the woods - it intrigues me.
Jeff DeRosa
My three star rating is a bit misleading because The Snoring Bird is written in two parts; and part one is a very different book than part two. Part one of this book is outstanding.

Part One, "The Old World," details the author's family history that led toward emigration to America. This journey spans two world wars from the perspective of, as the author says, "the losing side." The result is a fascinating mix of natural and political history that should not be missed. If this book concluded aft
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Anna Ilona
This memoir tells multiple stories. The first (and, for me, by far the most fascinating) is an account of the author's family history. His grandparents were owners of an estate in a part of Prussia that was given to Poland after World War I, became German again during World War II, and was transformed into a communist collective after the Yalta Conference. His father was a World War I flying ace (invited to join the Red Baron's squadron), a naturalist and fiercely intrepid explorer, and an autoc ...more
Suzanne
Aug 09, 2015 Suzanne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I would say this is right up there with the books I've loved most in my life. I have read a lot by Bernd Heinrich, and I read this book eager to know more of his life. It's a fascinating life, and then, amazingly, in the middle came a story that was almost exactly a story from my own life---Heinrich wanted to go to several colleges he was accepted at, but couldn't afford them, and so went to the University of Maine at Orono, and realized it was a wonderful place. When he talked about his early d ...more
Diane
Nov 24, 2014 Diane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bernd Heinrich is one of my favorite authors so I was excited to find he'd written another book. This one incorporates his love of the natural world with the story of his family (mainly his father during the first part of the book) in war torn Europe during WWI and WWII, and then the family's immigration to the US later. His rather eccentric father collected animal specimens throughout the world for museum collections in order to support his passion--collecting and classifying ichneumons (type o ...more
Elizabeth
Feb 23, 2015 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read this for my bird club book club. Otherwise, I would have never picked it up and would have missed a great book. Heinrich's life and his father's spanned both Europe and the U.S. with collecting trips to many other spots. Both collected amazing amounts for natural knowledge in quite different ways. Bernt was obviously a fine scientist in his own right, and I was surprised by how much time he spent of the issue of pleasing or not pleasing his father. The role of women in this book was quite i ...more
Dale Levy
Mar 13, 2016 Dale Levy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Outstanding and completely in grossing

This book was recommended to me my one I admire enormously. And you know what: she was right. It is not only an amazing read but so chalked full of facts and thoughts that while reading it, I would find myself still wondering where it was going and how the people involved related to one another. One really interesting quality of the book was how thoroughly the writer read his subjects, even when they seemed to me so difficult as parents.
or how incredibly in
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Eleanor Lux
Apr 16, 2013 Eleanor Lux rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my most favorite book in the last 5 years by my most favorite writer. I have loved all his books about animals and nature but this one also brought in another view of personal history I had never been exposed to.
Paula
Jan 25, 2009 Paula rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: intelligent beings.
This is the reality version of One Hundred Years of Solitude. Page-turning fairy tale of real life.
Jen
Apr 16, 2015 Jen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I cannot put this book down. I am in the final two weeks of semester in school and this book is where I hide when I'm avoiding the massive amounts of homework that was due a week ago. Bernd Heinrich is my hero. His books are so interesting - written beautifully and full of awesome scientific fun. This book is kind of a family memoir, and I just love how I know his entire family history now in such gripping detail. I am not one for history, I am a biology fanatic, but this book is both. I just ha ...more
Katie
Jan 22, 2016 Katie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hooray! I finally finished this tome. I enjoyed quite a bit of it, particularly the history told through the story of one family's experience. The biology was not quite as interesting as I had hoped (insects aren't my passion so it was hard to relate). The author supposedly writes about his family's journey, but the book really centers on his relationship with his father. I would have loved to hear more about his mother. What woman gives birth to children and then lets them be raised by her love ...more
Donna
Jun 29, 2015 Donna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
This book is not for everyone. I am interested in natural history, and birds in particular, so this was in many ways right up my alley. I found that there were areas where the book really lagged, and at over 400 pages, I felt that it could have used extensive editing. I was glad I persevered through the early history of Bernd Heinrich's family and country, because the story really took life once the author was telling his own story, as he actually remembered it. Things again lagged when Heinrich ...more
Sandy
Feb 17, 2015 Sandy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up because Heinrich was the commencement speaker at my son's graduation this year. I didn't know who he was so I figured I ought to read something by him (for the record, he is a better writer than commencement speaker). It's taken a while -- this is not a short book. It's a fascinating read though it tends to drag toward the end.

It's a memoir -- both a biography of Heinrich's naturalist father, Gerd, with whom he has a contentious relationship, and an autobiography of Bernd himse
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Michael
Jan 11, 2010 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction-read
Heinrich's memoir provides a fascinating perspective on the lives of ordinary Germans caught up in the extraordinary events of the two world wars. It also chronicles the transition from traditional taxonomy to the world of evolutionary biology, with the author's father (an autodidact with an expertise in ichneuman wasp taxonomy) representing the disappearing world of collecting and describing species based on appearances and with the formally educated author representing the new experimental bio ...more
Nola
Oct 19, 2009 Nola rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The writing is wonderful. Heinrich is very readable. The subject matter, on the other hand, is some of the most amazing characters, feats, and ideals of which I have heard. Heinrich discovers some of this history of his family himself for the first time,which heightens the emotional pull of the book. The history includes both the tragedy of war and the self-inflicted hardships of years of specimen collecting in distant, disease-plagued areas. The latter were undertaken when communication and tra ...more
Karen
Aug 18, 2008 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who enjoy nature and scince in general
Recommended to Karen by: found it on the book shelf
Picked this one up because I thought I would find out who wrote a book I studied in a college class, but alas twas not Herr Heinrich or his father. I related very well to Bernd. Our family was fascinated with nature and the outdoors. My brother and I spent hours watching ant lions, climbing trees to look for things. Bern had a hard life with his stern "prussian" father yet he did flourish. His parents were a product of their culture cast adrift in a foreign land and it bore no resemblance to the ...more
Alison
A memoir by biologist/environmental ecologist/writer Bernd Heinrich, best known for his books on raven behavior. It follows the history of his German-Polish family, especially the life of his father Gerd, through two world wars and over to America. Gerd was a specialist on the taxonomy of ichneumon wasps (look them up) and a collector of museum specimens (mostly birds and small mammals), two pursuits (really obsessions) that took him on many expeditions all over the world. Bernd reflects on how ...more
Art
Oct 04, 2010 Art rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the family history of my favorite non fiction authors written as a autobiography. Bernd writes about his father's life and his own life as his father raised him to appreciate natural history while living through WW1 and WW2 and then fleeing the Russians after WW2. His father's life and Bernd's own life has been a fascinating journey from Germany and then to America and traveling around the world collecting animals for museums and furthering human knowledge about our fellow inhabitants of ...more
Tom
Apr 02, 2015 Tom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a well-written memoir about Bernd Heinrich's family, especially his father and his relationship to him. While the subtitle is "My Family's Journey Through a Century of Biology" it is far more about the family than biology, and as much about a family's often fascinating journey through war and hard times. If you aren't into biology, don't be frightened away from this memoir. If you are into biology, it just makes it that much more a fascinating read.
Walt
Dec 28, 2014 Walt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is very well written in many ways-- as a book of family history, as a story of science, and as a general memoir and nature book. I especially enjoyed the descriptions of Bernd's childhood in Hahnheide and on the farmstead in Maine and the chapter on the complicated history of the Oriental Book on ichneumons, which connected so many elements previously mentioned in the book together. As someone interested in nature, science, history, and genealogy, I'm glad that I read this book and wou ...more
Tom
Dec 08, 2011 Tom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book left me very satisfied. I received it for a gift. My sister-in-law told me she thought I'd relate to it, being a Polish outdoor type. Yup. Normally, I don't find reading history interesting, but this thing pulled me in, mostly because it was a familiar back story, one of displacement, of people fleeing the country for their lives, and of contact with the natural world. That's part of my generation's Polish heritage. I knew that Heinrich had written about ravens, and that he lived in Ma ...more
Jeanne
Jul 26, 2014 Jeanne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
His father's story is quite interesting. Then he goes into his own story, which is good. But then I found myself wondering when it was ever going to end. At that point, I realized I was no longer enjoying it and decided not to finish it.
Anna
Jul 06, 2016 Anna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To know how many birds died in human pursuit of knowledge reminds me of Rembrandt's "Anatomy Lesson". Fantastic read! Highly reccomended to nature lovers, historians, fans of psychoanalysis or simply anyone who enjoys a good narrative.
Jerianna
Oct 12, 2014 Jerianna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I accidentally gave my review in Sarah's account--sorry Sarah!

This was a fabulous book! Interesting, fascinating, well-written. Made me think. 4.8 rounded up.
I highly recommend it, but it's not a kid book--higher reading level.
Phayvanh
Jul 29, 2007 Phayvanh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history and nature lovers
There are those people in the world from whom, after hearing their true story, you develop a different outlook to world and a deeper appreciation for the person. I never knew Bernd Heinrich, but if I had, I would have felt this way after reading his memoir, The Snoring Bird.

Not only did the author write his own story about his coming of age in a time of war, under the critical eye of his naturalist father, but he also tells his father's story, upon which so much of it depends.

A father-son tale w
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Misty
Nov 08, 2007 Misty rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am loving this book - but I love everything Heinrich writes. He is a very comfortable author and has a real passion for field biology and behavior. So I'm a bit biased. But even if you're not a biologist, this is a marvelous story.

addendum - having finished the book, I still think it was marvelous. The first three-quarters told the story of his family in Poland and their survival during WWII; then followed them to the US and their settlement here. All extremely interesting and engaging. The la
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Bernd Heinrich was born in Germany (April 19, 1940) and moved to Wilton, Maine as a child. He studied at the University of Maine and UCLA and is Professor Emeriti of Biology at the University of Vermont.

He is the author of many books including Winter World, Ravens in Winter, Mind of the Raven and Why We Run. Many of his books focus on the natural world just outside the cabin door.

Heinrich has wo
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More about Bernd Heinrich...

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