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Badgerlands: The Twilight World of Britain's Most Enigmatic Animal [Hardcover]

Patrick Barkham
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
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Book Description

3 Oct 2013
Britain is the home of the badger - there are more badgers per square kilometre in this country than in any other. And yet many of us have never seen one. They are nocturnal creatures, who vanish into their labyrinthine underground setts at the first hint of a human. Accompanied by the eccentrics and scientists who feed and study badgers, Barkham explores Badgerland; a nocturnal world in which sounds and scents are amplified, and Britain seems a much stranger place, one in which these low slung, snuffling, distinctively striped creatures gambol and dig, and live out their complex social lives. Patrick Barkham's grandmother won their trust enough to feed and nurse them, and was responsible for a Parliamentary bill that prohibited their slaughter. Today, over 40 years later, the badger is once again set to be culled. Barkham delves into the fascinating natural and rich cultural history of the animal - from their prehistoric arrival in Britain, to their savage persecution over the centuries, to their change of fortunes in the 20th century, when Kenneth Grahame's Badger spurred a growing fondness for them. Barkham's affection for the stubborn, striped-nose creatures is infectious and Badgerlands will cement his reputation as one of our most vivid, witty and curious nature writers.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 380 pages
  • Publisher: Granta (3 Oct 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847085040
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847085047
  • Product Dimensions: 20.2 x 15.8 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 193,750 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Patrick Barkham's wonderfully written Badgerlands helps to capture the meaning and appeal of Badgers and why the cull has sparked such resistance, broad, popular, respectable, non-violent and lawbreaking, by any means necessary. --Huffington Post

Carefully written... Barkham is a determinedly fair-minded writer, and he approaches the creature from all sorts of angles. Much of this is engaging. But what really entices is the badger itself, a cautious, secretive, curiously gentle creature about which so much is still unknown. --The Sunday Times

Patrick's account is passionate but also balanced... A compelling read. --The Simple Things

Enlightening and satisfying... Bagderlands is a pleasing read and provides plenty of food for thought - and this one does so in fine style. --Countryfile Magazine

Badgerlands offered a perceptive and compassionate insight into the world of this much maligned and misunderstood animal. --'Books of the Year' chosen by John Burnside, New Statesman

Badgerlands helps us through the moral maze of our complex relationship with badgers, in a highly personal book written with the style you would expect from the author of the wonderful The Butterfly Isles. --'Best Nature Books of the Year', Guardian

The badger is Britain's most beloved mammal, and the most loathed. Barkham listens to all voices in his excellent Badgerlands. --'Books of the Year', The Times

Beautiful --'Nature books of the year', Herald

Like the good journalist he is, Barkham talks to people on all sides of the debate to present a reasoned investigation. We accompany Barkham on his own journey to get to know badgers - their history and their habits. --'Nature books of the year', Daily Mail

'Badgerlands will give generations of interested parties much fascinating information to ponder just as tens of thousands of these tanks of the woods suffer untimely deaths. But the book's best passages describe Barkham's nocturnal forays into wild badgerdom' --Times Literary Supplement

Like the good journalist he is, Barkham talks to people on all sides of the debate to present a reasoned investigation. We accompany Barkham on his own journey to get to know badgers - their history and their habits. --'Nature books of the year', Daily Mail

'A carefully written exploration of the cultural and natural history of this much-loved animal. Barkham approaches the creature from all sorts of angles. Engaging' --Paperback review, Sunday Times

'This book increases everybody's understanding of the most difficult and controversy-ridden species of British fauna' --Paperback review, The Times

About the Author

PATRICK BARKHAM was born in 1975 in Norfolk and was educated at Cambridge University. He is a features writer for the Guardian, where he has reported on everything from the Iraq War to climate change. He is the author of The Butterfly Isles. He lives in Norwich and Wells-next-the-Sea in Norfolk.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scapegoat Badger 4 Nov 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It took me quite a while to read Patrick Barkham's book Badgerlands not because it is a bad book but the chapters on the cruelty, persecution and culling inflicted on badgers was upsetting and just made me put it down and try again in a few days. There are uplifting chapters on the descriptions of people being badger watchers and feeders. I am also glad that Mr. Barkham has at last been able to engage with badgers and his descriptions are also uplifting.
One professional reviewer describes Barkham's last chapter as superb. I agree. I was wondering if I was really going to get anything from the book because as an ecologist I was hopefully waiting for a positive dénouement. There it was in the final chapter. In 2006 when we then lived in Somerset we wrote to the National Farmers Union about the poor standards of animal husbandry that we were witnessing in Somerset. The response from the Director of Communications was that the standard of animal husbandry was an area of concern. He also said the NFU "did not normally give advice on husbandry to its members as traditionally that have been the province of Defra." He continues "However, we are actively considering the possibility of introducing a professional qualification for people who describe themselves as "farmers" with the object of raising standards and sorting out the bad apples".
Well seven years later there still seems to be a lot of "bad apples" out there and Barkham quotes six professional vets who insist that intensive dairy-farming has produced "mutant cows" unable to resist TB because of the appalling conditions and breeding they are subjected to. So we have made the badger the scapegoat for a deplorable situation.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cannot recomend this enough 16 Mar 2014
By Diamind
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I had heard lot about this book, having followed the recent tragedy in our countryside where so many badgers have been needlessly killed, and I was not disappointed. It is absolutely beautifully written, weaving the reader into the spell of the countryside and night time vigils so you could almost feel you were there, but as other reviewers have said, it is done in an incredibly balanced way so that the reader can see the picture from all sides, to understand the perspective of both badger lovers and haters. Again like others, a couple of chapters I found very hard and upsetting to read regarding torture and persecution these wonderful animals have had to experience from humans for hundreds of years, but Patrick has done an excellent job at trying to keep any of his own sentimentality out, whilst still expressing the deep passion of 'badger feeders', and the conviction of the scientists and vets as to the real causes behind the cruelty inflicted and the issues of bTB. Even if you are someone who has had little interest in badgers I don't believe you could fail to learn and enjoy this book and realise the importance of these enigmatic creatures. The bTB issue is even more poignant now, as unbeknown at the time the book was written, the statistics on levels of disease have now been proven to have dropped far more than ascertained at the start of the badger cull, due to errors in the Defra computer system.

Any lover of wildlife and/or our countryside will find this a wonderful read, and those that aren't - well may just change their minds.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Splendid and sad 27 Jan 2014
By Stewart M TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
There are very few creatures that capture the mystery of the British countryside better than the badger – red squirrels and otters being the only other contenders.

So, a book about the place on Earth that has more badgers per square foot than anywhere else is almost certainly going to be a winner. The only thing that could hold back a book like this would be poor writing and dull characters.

This book has neither.

Starting with a consideration of why badgers hold such a special places in the imagination, then moving to their biology, with an entertaining section on those badger lovers who have often literally taken them into their homes. Finally (and probably) most importantly to the bovine TB issue, this book looks at many aspects of Badgerland.

Mr. Badger from Wind In the Willows is a main player in the first part, biological scientists in the second and mildly (OK, deeply) eccentric badger feeders also play their part.

We often meet the scientists again in the consideration of Bovine TB and badgers. It must be almost impossible to write a balanced account of this issue – but Barkham comes very, very near.

If the earlier sections on badger baiting do not make your blood boil, then the apparent way in which science (and its scientist) are being misused to bolster some form of political campaign probably will.

An excellent, sometimes saddening, occasionally amusing book.

Highly recommended.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A FANTASTIC BOOK!!!! 21 Nov 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I didn't know what to expect from this book, but I was captivated by it from start to finish. MARVELLOUS!
It is full of facts, figures, knowledge of the BADGER from someone (Patrick Barkham) who knows what they are talking about.
All "Wild Animal" lovers should read this and that should include David Cameron and his 'mates'!!!!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars loved and hated in equal measure
A timely publication which reviews the quintessential icon of the British countryside, loved and hated in equal measure? Read more
Published 8 days ago by Helen R Kirk
3.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Stuff
The Badger is one of the UKs largest native mammals, and it is also an animal that people have early seen because of its nocturnal habit. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Half Man, Half Book
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully balanced
A beautifully written book, carefully paced and superbly structured. I was certainly drawn into 'Badgerlands'. Read more
Published 1 month ago by M. D. Holley
5.0 out of 5 stars A trip into badgerland
A really well written and thought provoking book about perhaps our most controversial animal. This book explores the past and present of our relationship with meles meles, from... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Rj Williams
4.0 out of 5 stars eye opening
a wonderful book its eye opening how the badger has been treated over the years .why should any one want to harm these beautiful animals ;it all so gives a very enlightening... Read more
Published 7 months ago by steven broadbent
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Read
Excellent and well balanced read on a very tricky subject. Very sad at times when looking at the persecution Badgers face, but overall you get drawn into the wonderful world that... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Jonathan Barton
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful. Touching but unsentimental.
If you havent read Barkham's previous work "The Butterfly Isles" then you might not be expecting this book to be quite this great. Read more
Published 7 months ago by TheParisien
5.0 out of 5 stars Love our nocturnal B/W friends !!!
Superbly written and a joy to read. I gave it as a Christmas present too ... These innocent animals are nocturnal guardians of our fast disappearing countryside, despite what... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Chris
5.0 out of 5 stars well recieved gift
I bought this i confess purely based on its attractive cover and interesting title. It was a gift and I havnt read it yet myself, but both my Mum and her husband said it was... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Kitwah
5.0 out of 5 stars I am a badger anorak
An Excellent book telling of the life and troubles of badgers in this country. I watch them daily and am amazed at their behaviour and instincts, this book describs them well.
Published 8 months ago by Amazon Customer
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