In this day, when most personal memoirs largely devote themselves to misery and dysfunction, when the competition seems intense to have lived the most disrupted and fragmented existence imaginable, it is exhilarating to encounter a life of modesty, happiness and immeasurable stability thoroughly recounted. To have such a life grounded from its earliest days in bird watching is surprising, and entirely welcoming. Often when we think of nature writers and naturalists we think of the rough-hewn or the rural, rugged outdoor types wrestled into epiphany by the arms of Mother Nature. Thomas Urquhart found a different path. He combines a classical education with a lifelong passion for opera, literature and art. And from his earliest days he is a devoted, devotedly amateur, naturalist. In For the Beauty of the Earth Thomas Urquhart begins with the lives of ancestors--his Aunt Catherine, arrested while protesting what she considered the judicial murder of Sacco and Vanzetti, and many others. He takes "birding through the Renaissance," to the fields of New England, the island of Mauritius, and the Camargue in Provence. Throughout, birding provides Urquhart with his opportunities for travel, his practical education, and his passionate place in the natural world.