This is a honey, and the kind of armchair adventure that is all too scarce at the moment. Mr. Ripley has successfully combined information about the strange, little-known birds of New Guinea, the fearsome yet childlike headhunters, and the trials and satisfactions of a scientific expedition. The locale is in the public eye, and people are aware, too acutely, of ""these Indies and their riches...a chain across the sea...ripe for the picking."" The naturalist and the ornithologist will claim the book with avidity; the general reader will not find the pace of the story slowed up by the bird material, which falls into its place as local color. There are amusing and pathetic anecdotes of the natives, of remittance men, dancers, beach combers, the female tripper, and others he encountered -- a life that is no more. Dr. Ripley sailed with a group of friends to Dutch New Guinea in 1936. It took stouthearted voyagers to take in their stride the hardships of the expedition:-- the 59-foot schooner, short rations, infections that refused to heal, nettles, two appendectomies, bouts of malaria were a few of the ""inconveniences"", recorded with keen sense of appreciation of the shades, fascinating accounts of the various birds, and animals, which balanced off the difficulties for Ripley, a zoologist. Fascinating reading.