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5 Reviews
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond Biology, March 23, 2004
By 
David Petry (Santa Barbara, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Keith County Journal (Paperback)
This book is a quiet masterpiece. I am not a biologist, but I did not find the book too specific or too technical. Janovy sees lessons everywhere. He teases them from his subjects, his students, his experiences. When he wades into Whitetail Creek with his twenty biology students, he changes the lives of those that follow him, whether in the water or on the page. He writes of the Rock Wren, "Live in a place where you are not tested, and you are living in a place of inferior quality." True, the book is about parasites, and his treatment of parasites is fascinating. But the parasites are packed in among his observations about human being and place and the workings of the world. His writing style is graceful and enticing. I can't wait to read more.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Inspiring Overview of Biological Field Research, May 14, 2008
By 
David B Richman (Mesilla Park, NM USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Keith County Journal (Paperback)
John Janovy captures the excitement of biological field research in his "own back yard". This classic, "Keith County Journal", details the work he and his students did on parasitology in his home state of Nebraska; a state that does not immediately conjure up images of great scientific discovery. This is a great pity because many fundamental discoveries can be made without traveling to the Amazon or Antarctica. In fact a researcher can spend some very fruitful time in such places as mud holes and stock tanks, as well as others, such as agricultural fields. Barbara McClintock, for example, won a Nobel Prize by studying corn in her own research plots and Jean Henri Fabre wrote a whole series of very well-known books on the insect life found mostly on his home "harmas" of about one hectare.

While he and his students scrounge through ponds to look for snail and bird parasites, Janovy was also busy making drawings and paintings of birds. Not wonderful paintings, but certainly reasonable ones. In this he joins with a large number of natural scientists/naturalists/artists who have utilized art as a vehicle for observation. Indeed, Janovy makes a very good case for such observation as a basis for field biology.

This is not just a book for biology wonks, but will also give the general reader a taste of what field biology is all about. "Keith County Journal" is in fact a highly readable book and I recommend it and any other work by John Janovy without reservation.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Curlews take the cake, June 27, 2008
By 
Calochortus "aroid" (San Luis Obispo, CA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Keith County Journal (Paperback)
Each chapter is an essay on some aspect of life in the Sand Hills, often connected to the author's trials with his university or other human institutions, often dam builders, stream diverters, highway folks, boaters, hunters. As usual, some chapters are much more interesting than the others. I liked the parts about curlews and malaria the best. He has a strong and distinctive voice that sounds like a lot of zoologists i have met. Botanists just don't have the same attitude, somehow.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Keith County Journal, September 16, 2003
By 
Bruce Muench (Roscoe, IL United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Keith County Journal (Paperback)
This story is very specific in its content, which is great for a biologist like myself, but because it is so specific it may appeal only to a limited audience. I especially enjoyed the field trips described and felt I was there, leaky waders and all, plus battles with barbed wire and seeking permission from land owwners to trespass their property.
The use of common names in addition to scientific names may have contributed to its readability. More illustrations would help too. I recommend this book to anyone interested in biology, particularly those over age 15.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Field notes of a wonky biologist . . ., July 28, 2005
This review is from: Keith County Journal (Paperback)
There are books by scientists and nature writers that inspire an attitude of awe and wonder, and they do it with a graceful style of coolly elegant prose. This is not one of those books. Janovy, a University of Nebraska biologist specializing in parasitology, is often awestruck by nature, but his style is wonky and comically ironic, using the kind of classroom lecture technique meant to engage undergraduates by seeming to be anything but reverential about subjects he loves, enjoys, and deeply cares about.

Unscientifically, he personalizes and humanizes the species he discusses (termites, snails, fish, birds) and even the places where he and his students do their field work - the Platte River, the waters of man-made Lake McConaughy, the streams and marshes that feed into it, and the Nebraska Sandhills. And there are references as well to beer drinking, the Doors, and Waylon Jennings. He refers to himself sometimes in the third person and easily reveals his own embarrassments and frustrations as his attempts to unravel nature's mysteries are sometimes less than successful. Waxing philosophical at nearly every turn, he eventually reaches a state of mind he calls the "Ogallala blues."

Meanwhile, like a great teacher who inspires with his enthusiasms, he opens a world unknown to anyone unaware of the subtle and complex relationships between species. And he's able to do this by focusing on just a few life forms, including one-celled animals, in a small area of western Nebraska. Janovy invites you to take the nearest exit ramp within range of open fields and streams - even a patch of weeds - and just feast your senses on the flora and fauna. His book is full of fascinating material for the nonbiologist and a pleasure to read.
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Keith County Journal
Keith County Journal by John Janovy (Paperback - February 1, 1996)
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