No long and windy plea for the conservation of wildlife (or the conservation of mankind) could have the impact of this short novel about the disappearance of a species. The Great Auk resembled the penguin in structure and plumage -- 30 inches high and dressed tuxedo style. Their movement through the water was ""faster than six strong men could row a dinghy"". On land they were as clumsy as a tumble toy. This, coupled with the fact that their migration pattern was set in immutable instinct that took them from the North Atlantic to the Carolinas and back, need not have spelled the key to their extinction. This was provided by the greed and excess of the fishermen who literally lined the harmless creatures up and marched them to their deaths by braining on the shore of the mating island. When this hard work was over, the most intelligent of animal life relaxed by playing football with the unprotected eggs. Eckert recreates the life cycle of what could have been the last Great Auk, and to his credit be it said, he makes the reader care (without the use of one word too many) when this last of his kind is senselessly, needlessly killed. Written with power and skill.