Falcon (Animal) and over 2 million other books are available for Amazon Kindle . Learn more

Sign in to turn on 1-Click ordering.
Trade in Yours
For a 2.00 Gift Card
Trade in
More Buying Choices
Have one to sell? Sell yours here
Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Image not available

Start reading Falcon (Animal) on your Kindle in under a minute.

Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here, or download a FREE Kindle Reading App.

Falcon (Animal) [Paperback]

Helen Macdonald
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
Price: 12.95 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o
Only 9 left in stock (more on the way).
Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.
Want it tomorrow, 30 Aug.? Choose Express delivery at checkout. Details


Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition 8.94  
Paperback 12.95  
Trade In this Item for up to 2.00
Trade in Falcon (Animal) for an Amazon Gift Card of up to 2.00, which you can then spend on millions of items across the site. Trade-in values may vary (terms apply). Learn more

Book Description

9 Jan 2006 Animal
The fastest animal alive, the falcon deserves attention not just for the combination of speed, power, beauty and ferocity that have made it an object of fascination for thousands of years, but for the light it sheds on the cultures through which it has flown. This book, bridging science and cultural history, surveys the practical and symbolic uses of falcons in human culture in new and exciting ways. Helen Macdonald describes the complete history of the bird, ranging across the globe and over many millennia, as well as incorporating the latest scientific discoveries. There are chapters on falcon natural history; myth and legend; falconry; conservation; falcons in the military, in urban settings and the corporate world. Along the way the reader will discover how falcons were mobilized in secret military projects, their links with espionage, the Third Reich and the space programme, and how they've featured in erotic stories. The book explores their veneration as gods in Ancient Egypt, their role as cultural icons in the Middle East, and their recruitment by the advertising industry to promote all manner of products, from photocopiers to jet planes. Falcon combines in-depth practical, personal and scientific knowledge of falcons with a strong analytical perspective on the place of these birds in human history. It will be enjoyed by specialists and non-specialists alike: lovers of the countryside, birdwatchers or anyone who has ever wondered why falcons are so compelling.

Frequently Bought Together

Falcon (Animal) + H is for Hawk
Price For Both: 20.44

One of these items is dispatched sooner than the other.

Buy the selected items together
  • H is for Hawk 7.49

Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought

Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Reaktion Books (9 Jan 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1861892381
  • ISBN-13: 978-1861892386
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 14.9 x 18.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 134,529 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, and more.

Product Description


Macdonald's scientific but lyrical study also celebrates [the falcon's] mythical, cultural and iconic significance. -- The Times (UK)

Marvellous book . . . sheer joy. -- James Fleming, The Spectator

Nothing but praise for this excellent volume, which in effect is the species' vade mecum (its definitive work) in fact. -- Cage and Aviary Birds

About the Author

Historian of science, birdwatcher and falconer, Helen Macdonald has kept trained falcons since she was eleven years old. She has worked in falcon conservation biology in Britain and the United Arab Emirates, and is a Research Fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
The 6o-odd species of the falcon family Falconidae superficially resemble but are probably only distantly related to the other diurnal birds of prey such as hawks, eagles and vultures; some researchers think they are more closely related to owls. Read the first page
Explore More
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
Search inside this book:

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Customer Reviews

4 star
2 star
1 star
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A multifaceted gem 24 Jan 2006
Some cultural history makes one feel that the author thinks only other cultural historians are a worthy audience. This wonderful book is not one of them. It is the sort of thing that makes you feel smarter by the minute. It links the culture and mythology of falcon imagery to the riveting details of ancient and modern falconry and sandwiches them together with an examination of falcons and the military (my favourite part).
Macdonald writes with unpretentious erudition, ease and wit, and has that rare quality (in a historian) of knowing when parts of history are just funny as hell. Look out for the story of the New York falconer who was run out of town because his peregrine was eating the Mafia's racing pigeons. The book is lavishly and gorgeously illustrated, with brilliant and often hilarious captions which all by themselves make the book a brilliant browser. Stills from the Royal Tennenbaums and A Canterbury Tale, the US Airforce's mascot peregrines, heart-stopping shots of the peregrine's famous 200mph stoop. With human skydiver in tow.
Seriously. Falcons are just cool. And after this, you'll know why.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative 13 Nov 2013
By Chelle
Fantastic book full of interesting information on all species of birds not just the falcon. Easy to read and take on board, looking to buy more in this series.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing 13 Oct 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It's a fascinating subject, beautifully and intelligently written in a way that is way, way above what you would call 'normally good writing'.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing 6 Dec 2012
By H. A. Weedon VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
After a short introduction this book is divided into six parts: 1: Natural History. 2: Mythical Falcons. 3: Trained Falcons. 4: Threatened Falcons. 5: Military Falcons. 6: Urban Falcons. These chapters are followed by a timeline, references, bibliography and associations and websites and there is an index.

Although the work is packed with interesting information under each heading, which many readers will find interesting, it lacks focus. There are no distribution maps and no family tree showing the relationship of falcons amongst themselves and in relation to birds in general. The illustrations have been included in a rather haphazard fashion.

The book is also unfair to European readers in that it's not even handed. It over-concentrates on peregrines in America to the detriment of the UK and the rest of Europe and, indeed, other parts of the world. This is, in fact, a 'curate's egg book' - good in parts. It's a missed opportunity and could have done better. The truth is, there are quite a number of better books about falcons and falconry, most of them available on AMAZON in one form or another.

This is all very sad because the book is filled with promise that never quite materialises, hobbled as it is by muddled illustrations and, a times, slapdash presentation. In a way, it depends on what the reader is looking for. If it's just as an interesting read, then you will probably like it well enough. If you're looking for a focussed reference work, this book is not for you.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Unique Portrait 22 Jun 2006
By Matthew R. Mullenix - Published on Amazon.com
I'm too late to say the first nice thing about Helen Macdonald. Doubtless her writing----scholarly work, essays, and erudite poetry----have made heads nod and shake in amazement for years. Author Steve Bodio recently raved of this fellow writer and falconer: "Her blog posts are better than most essays published for money today. I just went through the latest New Yorker and there was nothing to compare with her best."

Agreed. With Falcon, her first book on birds, Helen Macdonald manages to make a lesser work of everyone else's treatment of the topic. That's a big claim: Many remarkable writers and scientists cover the field, but none I know have yet produced a book as smart, insightful, literate or original.

Billed by the publisher as a "cultural and natural history of the falcon," Falcon simply could not have been written by anyone else. Listed among Macdonald's fields of study at Jesus College, Cambridge (where she is a Research Fellow), are: "History of ecology, amateur natural history, biological field-sciences and field-sports/hunting in 20th Century cultures; history of conservation and ethology; history of biological warfare; war and nature." War and nature! There's depth of interest for you. I could add military aviation to the list, an area of expertise that finds its way often and effectively into the text:

"What of flight, the single most celebrated falcon characteristic? Falcon bodies are heavy in relation to their wing area...Their wings have a high aspect ratio----the ratio between the wingspan and the wing width----and their low-camber wings are long and pointed. The result is a low-drag confirmation more suited to active, flapping flight and fast gliding than soaring."

Adding poetry to physics, Macdonald describes a stooping falcon this way:

"At speeds of over 100 miles an hour, the minutest alterations to her body shape gave punishingly exaggerated effects; she looked, as Franklin later described, shrink-wrapped, mummified. And just as it seemed impossible for her to fall any faster, she'd change her shape again."

The military deployment (that's right: deployment) of trained falcons gets its own chapter in this uniquely well-rounded falcon book. Other sections examine the raptors' biology, conservation, and successful adaptations to urban life. Macdonald reserves one chapter for the looming mythical status of falcons throughout history. And of course, falconry receives special treatment. Our sport takes pride of place in the center of the book, skillfully tying its wide-ranging topics together.

Throughout the text you'll find surprising revelations (no "trivia") that could only result from extensive and enthusiastic study. For example, did you know?

"Falconry techniques and knowledges have been traded between disparate cultures for millennia. European knights took falcons with them on the Crusades, and learned how to hood falcons from their foes...Falconry's symbolic system was largely shared between both sides, and so it was able to articulate power-struggles in ways immediately comprehensible to either."

Then, typically Macdonald, a wry anecdote illustrates the point: "A besieged Richard I sent an envoy to Saladin to request food for his starving falcons; Saladin immediately delivered baskets of his best poultry for the falcons alone."

What Macdonald does with Falcon is bring all of herself to the subject. She breathes life into the work; pulls the lives of falcons and people together into a rare three-dimensional portrait. The effect is illuminating.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More than Birds 21 April 2006
By M. K. Chew - Published on Amazon.com
Helen Macdonald opens `Falcon' with a photo of a peregrine and a human skydiver in freefall together, separated by about an arm-span of open sky. It's sure to astound anyone who has ever held such a bird on their fist, or gotten close enough to really look one in the eye. An ambitious gambit, but one lived up to by the balance of the book. Scholar, scientist and falconer, Macdonald is unapologetically smitten with the birds and her knowledge of both falcons and the traditions surrounding them is immense. Passionate expertise does not guarantee readability, but Macdonald deftly achieves an engaging and witty tone throughout the volume. The natural history and conservation status of various species are covered to a degree that should more than satisfy any well-informed general reader. Chapters on falconry, myth and the military may surprise those accustomed to the ecological game American ecologist and writer Marston Bates wryly labeled "let's pretend man doesn't exist", but real falcons live in the real world. Human history and cultural attitudes are key elements in their stories, too. `Falcon' is both thoughtfully and attractively illustrated. Five minutes spent sampling the pictures and skimming captions can easily incite an hour of reading. If the rest of the books in Reaktion's `Animal' series are all this good, I'll be building another bookcase.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Marred by poor display 23 Aug 2013
By Peter Hodge - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
Interesting book, but unfortunately the presentation of the text is poor: spelling mistakes, typos, and captions for illustrations jammed against the side of the screen. Come on, Amazon, surely you can do better than this.
4.0 out of 5 stars book review 13 May 2013
By Pond - Published on Amazon.com
The author went and found the history and usage of falcons and falconry. My chapter in particular was all about the past and present of falcons. From the readers point of view it was very informational, not very exciting and told you how falconry traveled and was used by different cultures. She told readers where falconry came from and how important it is to different cultures around the world because people don't understand the reason why falconry is not just training your pet falcon to hunt and fly around for you. The explanation of training falcons gave the reader insight to what it means and takes to become a falconer, essentially telling the reader that it takes skill, discipline, and patience, to train a falcon. The ways to train falcons was passed on to one another and the knowledge did not just belong to just belong to one country, it belonged to everyone. I thought that the chapter was informative but not creative enough to deliver the information. I lost interest at parts of the chapter and ended up re-reading parts with breaks so I could concentrate. The chapter was too wordy where it would explain the main point and then explain interesting but non-essential facts that would distract the flow of the chapter.
Were these reviews helpful?   Let us know
Search Customer Reviews
Only search this product's reviews

Customer Discussions

This product's forum
Discussion Replies Latest Post
No discussions yet

Ask questions, Share opinions, Gain insight
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in

Search Customer Discussions
Search all Amazon discussions

Look for similar items by category