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The Illustrated History of the Countryside Paperback – 12 May 1997


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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Phoenix; New edition edition (12 May 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1857999533
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857999532
  • Product Dimensions: 21.7 x 1.7 x 28 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 428,511 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book Description

From its earliest origins to the present day, Oliver Rackham describes the endlessly changing character of Britain's countryside. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Publisher

“A classic of scholarship and imagination…a monumental work” Richard Mabey, Times Educational Supplement. 'One thing is certain: no one would be wise to write further on our natural history, or to make films about it, without thinking very hard about what is contained in these authoritative pages' Ronald Blythe, Country Life --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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First Sentence
THIS IS A RE-WORKING OF MY BOOK The History of the Countryside, first published in 1986. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Stewart M TOP 500 REVIEWER on 24 May 2009
Format: Paperback
This is as close to an essential text as you get if you are interested in the development of the English Countryside and current state of the Environment in the UK. Written with the clear authority of excellent research, but presented in a way which is highly accessible, this is a model of both scholarship and style. After introducing the research methods used by the book it book addresses aspects of the landscape such as fields, woodlands and moorlands on a chapter by chapter basis. However, the book always manages to maintain a coherent picture of these aspects within the wider landscape. The origin and nature of the British Countryside is swathed in many myths and factoids - this book goes a very long way to addressing these. As the other reviews have said - it comes highly recommended.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 11 Mar 1999
Format: Paperback
The Norfolk Broads are artificial, not natural. Forests traditionally could exist without a tree in sight. Oliver Rackham has a few surprises up his sleeve but what really makes this book great is that for all its 500 or so pages, its a total page turner!
The British countryside was made: barely an acre of our land is in its prehistoric state. This book shows how woods, fields ponds and heath grew up alongside mankind; how they were used, and how historical documents as well as the land itself takes us far back into history.
The land changes slowly, and despite the damage of the last 100 years there is much of historical interest to be found, and the guided walks of the illustrated edition take you there.
A beautiful example of how a lifelong academic can remain passionate about his subject and totally readable. I read the non-illustrated version, but I checked the illustrated one in the local bookshop and it looks fantastic.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Peasant TOP 500 REVIEWER on 28 Jun 2011
Format: Paperback
I bought Oliver Rackham's original History of the Countryside, lent it to a close relative and never saw it again; expensive mistake! Someone, probably fed up with my long face, bought me the illustrated edition as a consolation prize, so I've read and owned both. It's hard to be objective choosing between the two in the circumstances, but I think I marginally preferred the original with its greater detail. Certainly the big, colour illustrations in this edition are a real pleasure, and ease one gently through a description and analysis which is far from trivial. However the abridged text sometimes comes across as rather terse, some of the richness of the writing in the original edition having been sacrificed for brevity. And the original edition isn't without illustrations; its just that here there is more colour, they are larger, and inset in the text.

Rackham arranges his book thematically. Chapter headings are:
Rural Detection; Animals and Plants; Woodland; Wood Pasture; Boundaries and Fields; Trees of Hedgerow and Farmland; Highways; Grassland and Heath; Moorland; Ponds, Dells and Pits; Marshes, Fens, Rivers and the Sea. Here the text broadly follows the original edition, and there is a bibliography of suggested further reading, and a detailed index at the back.

There are, in addition 8 annotated walks, which are like mini-field-trips, designed to let you see many of the features described in the book out there in the landscape. Unfortunately the book is rather too large and heavy to take with you, so you'd presumably photocopy the relevant pages before setting out.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By J. Angelson on 30 Jun 2006
Format: Paperback
Rackham, a senior fellow at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, outdoes himself with this stunning exposition of the English countryside. He displays a grasp of his material both wide and deep, saturated with intuitive understanding and ecological consciousness. Rackham really outdoes himself with this one! Highly recommended. The treatment of Essex marshland represents a particular contribution to the literautre.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By H. Campion on 1 Mar 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It is easy to enjoy the countryside, but this book does a lot to extend & deepen our understanding of what we are looking at. It explains the features in a landscape - the interaction of geology, plants, animal habitats & human interaction with the natural environment.

I think the illustrated edition is particularly attractive - not just because the pictures are beautiful, but because they supply examples of landscapes and features & so help us to recognise similar things when we find them. We've noticed things we wouldn't have noticed before reading this, and now they mean something to us. That's a pleasure in itself.

It's very enjoyable, and valuable, to look around, and, thanks to this book, notice things, & begin to understand what has made the place look as it does.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By River Walker on 31 Jan 2013
Format: Hardcover
A way of educating oneself away from airy fairy notions of the countryside and Nature. He is a good, succinct writer with a light touch.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Andrew James on 29 Mar 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a keen walker and very amateur naturalist I have more than a passing interest in the countryside. I'm into trees, birding, dragonflies, botany to mention just a few. Beyond that though, as I walk through the countryside, I'd like to understand how it has been formed. I've spent a lot of time wondering why things are like they are. Why does my local wood have large holes in the ground? why are some trees pollarded? why is that large nettle bed where it is and what is this ridge and furrow all about? It's all very well being able to identify birds and dragonflies and grasses and sedges, but there are far bigger mysteries out there to struggle with. Then I found this book. It goes some considerable way in explaining how the countryside has formed. Reading it has given me the considerable pleasure of being able to go out and solve a few mysteries.

I've owned this book for ages, in fact as a collector of books I have both paper and hardback editions. This is simply the finest book I've read on the subject by some considerable margin and Oliver Rackham is undoubtedly an absolute legend. Not only is this book a joy to read, it is an absolute mine of information. You will not find a better book. The very fact that Oliver Rackham books are so eminently collectable is testament to the genius of the author. Don't mess around, if you're interested in our fantastic countryside, then you have to own this book.
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