Review - "Niko's Nature"

Niko's Nature, by Hans Kruuk, is the most impassionate biography I've read to date - regardless of the subject's occupation or importance.

Kruuk sucessfully orchestrates compelling accounts of the life, personality, and famous research of the Maestro (Tinbergen's affectionate title bestowed by his graduate students).

For those not in the know, Niko Tinbergen was one of the four men awarded a Nobel Prize in 1973 for his contributions as a founding father of the science now referred to as ethology, or animal behavior (before his work, ethology had a different meaning amongst zoologists and biologists). His field work studying gull and tern behavior laid the foundation for his concepts and theories of modern ethology.

Although Tinbergen's work has been criticized, reviewed, and revised, and occasionally dismissed throughout the years, his influence spans wide. It is not difficult to admit that without the alliance of Niko Tinbergen with his equally-renowned collegue and friend, Konrad Lorenz, the field of modern ethology would probably look nothing like how it does today.

A recipient of several distinguishing awards and honors, one of Tinbergen's greatest honors is to have such a well-written and interesting biography in his namesake. Kruuk, one of Tinbergen's Ph.D. students during his Oxford teaching years, gives a very personal account of the Maestro's being and presence. One of the most difficult things to put into words is an accurate account of someone's personality, especially from an early age to their death.

Lively photographs and pictures are icing on the cake. Every single image is relevant in its placement within the book. Included are several of Tinbergen's own photographs and drawings which is a plus, considering that photography and drawing were two of his best-known skills (along with ice skating, writing, and film-making in his later years).

Any student of ethology, biology, or underwater basket weaving should get a copy of this book and read it. Be inspired by the life of a great researcher and understand the awe that can be inspired via superbly-composed nonfiction.

Overall: 5/5 - Probably worth a second read; good addition to your bookshelf


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