Nebraska Center for Writers

Chimney Rock What the Critics Say
About John Janovy, Jr


Back in Keith County
Copyright © 1984
by John Janovy, Jr.
U of Nebraska P

[Janovy,] far from going to the same well once too often, has produced his best book. He has reined in his previous excesses of tone and occasional wantonness with language and developed instead a more controlled voice and a surer grasp of his subject....All in all, Janovy has given us a superb example of nature-writing and of life in the Great Plains....[He] takes us on a journey of intellectual serendipity, deriving extraordinary thoughts from ordinary circumstances. — Washington Post
Good biologist though [Janovy] is, he's an even better nature writer, with a special affinity for the mysterious and the mystic. — Noel Perrin
John Janovy has produced his best book. ... He gives us a superior example of nature writing and of life in the Great Plains, perhaps surpassing such admired works in the genre as Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac and William Warner’s Beautiful Swimmers. Janovy takes us on a journey of intellectual serendipity, deriving extraordinary thoughts from ordinary circumstances. — Washington Post
This "human need for wilderness" is the trail winding through Back in Keith County ... [to] the streams of John Janovy’s "inner cowboy country." The fourteen essays are a very human mix of biology, sentiment, wandering observation and personal philosophy. — Smithsonian
Janovy’s earlier Keith County Journal met with astonishing success, and some reviewers compared the author to Henry David Thoreau. Back in Keith County returns to the part of Nebraska that Mr Janovy knows and loves. ... The book shows the area’s wildlife — tiger beetles, toads, swallows, owls and a variety of fish—to be as special as its people. ... The author also reflects on the intangible aspects of life. ... The rich ramblings of these 179 pages are fascinating. — Kansas City Star

Dunwoody Pond
Copyright © 1994
by John Janovy, Jr
St Martin's P

Janovy (U of Nebraska) explores the molding of young people into scientists and the early experiences of some of his most successful students in their studies at a small pond at the Cedar Point Biological Station in Nebraska. — Book News

Keith County Journal
Copyright © 1996
by John Janovy, Jr
U of Nebraska P

To learn from nature, not about nature, was the imperative that took John Janovy Jr and his students into the sandhills, marshes, grasslands, canyons, lakes, and streams of Keith County in western Nebraska. The biologist explores the web of interrelationships among land, animals, and human beings. Even termites, snails, and barn swallows earn respect and assume significance in the overall scheme of things. — from the jacket
John Janovy, Jr's essays celebrate nature at all levels, from the smallest and most obscure parasite to the most complex of all species, the human being. Janovy's essays, many of which originate from field studies he conducts as a life sciences professor at the University of Nebraska, have been ranked with the writings of such renowned essayists as EB White and Lewis Thomas. — Contemporary Authors
Like Blake seeing a world in a grain of sand, Professor Janovy discerns universes in the creeks, bogs and fields of the Sandhills country. — Peter Stoler, Time
He speaks in a narrative voice both youthful and wise. He elucidates small wonders with abundant charm. — National Review
Keith County Journal has already invited comparison with such lapidary works as Lewis thomas's Lives of a Cell and Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. The book belongs in that company like Blake seeing a world in a grain of sand. Professor Janovy discerns universes in the creeks, bogs, and fields of the Sandhills country. He makes the reader care for creatures as large as the great blue heron, as small as the inch-long plains killifish. ... [A] jewel of a journal. — Time
A gracefully written, horizon-expanding book. — New York Times Book Review
A very different look at the wonders of nature, fascinating, well written, and enlightening. — Library Journal

On Becoming a Biologist
Copyright © 1996
by John Janovy, Jr
U of Nebraska P

We share a common bond with even the most bizarre beetle of the Peruvian rain forest," asserts John Janovy Jr. "A belief in that common bond might, in fact, be the most fundamental characteristic of a biologist." And biologists see the worth of a plant or an animal not in monetary terms but in its contribution to our understanding of life. The famous naturalist brings a humanist's vision to this superbly written book. On Becoming a Biologist is grounded in reality, cognizant of practical matters (education and jobs) as well as the ideals that inform the profession — a reverence for life and a responsibility to humankind and its future. Throughout, Janovy draws on his experiences as a graduate and postdoctoral student, on his rewarding relationships with teachers, and on his field work as a naturalist. — from the jacket
A concise, readable picture of biology as it is practiced in the field, the laboratory and the classroom. [Janovy] moves easily from philosophy to politics to petri dish. ... This book will be appreciated by biologists as well as those who want to know how a scientist's mind works. — New York Times Book Review.
A charming book. ... frank, open and a pleasure to read. — Noel Perrin, Civilization

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