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The Beauty in the Beast: Britain's Favourite Creatures and the People Who Love Them [Hardcover]

Hugh Warwick
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
Price: 14.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

26 April 2012
The Beauty in the Beast is a delightful portrait of some of the UK's best-loved wild animals and birds and the colourful enthusiasts who champion their causes. Meet the water vole-woman from Shropshire, the owl-man from Somerset and Gordon, the dancing toad-fancier. These and many other fabulously engaging characters carry a deep knowledge of their chosen species within a distinctly quirky shell. Other animals making an appearance include otters, bats, dolphins, dragonflies, foxes and adders. Hugh Warwick, animal enthusiast and hedgehog fanatic, writes a series of affectionate and lively homages to the animals of the British Isles, composed of fieldwork and interviews with the people who love and conserve them.

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The Beauty in the Beast: Britain's Favourite Creatures and the People Who Love Them + A Prickly Affair: The Charm of the Hedgehog
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (26 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857203959
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857203953
  • Product Dimensions: 14.7 x 22.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 398,709 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


'A delightful, funny and enlightening read. I can't think of a more enjoyable way to be reminded that we don't need to travel the world to find amazing animals: the exotic and the surprising are right here on our doorsteps' --Gavin Pretor-Pinney, author of 'The Cloudspotter's Guide'

That s typical of Hugh Warwick s lovely, easy, humorous style. His book works on so many levels: as a portrait of British eccentricity, as an informal, highly selective guide to our native fauna, and quietly but angrily, as a polemic on the destruction of habitat and on the terrible mess we have made of our countryside. --Daily Mail

A few years ago, Hugh Warwick achieved a modest success with 'A Prickly Affair', a charming if slightly batty book about hedgehogs and people who like hedgehogs. With 'The Beauty in the Beast', he expands this basic idea to take on 15 wild creatures and their experts people who have taken 'one or two steps outside the bounds of what most people consider normal'. He hopes they will convince him 'of the beauty locked away within their chosen beasts , whether bats or dolphins' --The Independent

About the Author

Hugh Warwick is an environmental writer and photographer whose work has appeared across print media from BBC Wildlife and New Scientist to the Daily Telegraph - for whom he was unofficially hedgehog correspondent for a while - to radio documentaries for BBC Radio 4 and his appearance as the 'Eco-Worrier' on Fred McAuley's Radio Scotland show. He was also the field producer on Robert Greenwald's film 'Walmart: The High Cost of Low Price'. Hugh has studied hedgehogs, off and on, for over 20 years, and has most recently been responsible for stopping the great hedgehog massacre of Uist in the Outer Hebrides.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enthralling 5 Dec 2012
This is an enthralling read. In each chapter Warwick explores a different British species and introduces us to a particular enthusiast who has dedicated their life's work to preserving it. What makes 'The Beauty in the Beast' so compelling is the charming, sometimes laugh-out-loud narration. Here the author is describing a bat's face: "There is a very small space between cute and ridiculous, and somehow this bat managed to occupy it with confidence."

As well as being highly entertained we learn a huge amount of fascinating facts on each animal. Warwick explains that the gorgeous fur of long-eared bats is velvet to the touch, and that they purr when stroked. We learn that because of their bright, gem-like eyes, people believed that toads had a jewel embedded in their brain. We learn that otter poo, as well as being full of fish bones, smells like perfume.

I couldn't put the book down. Warwick's delightful enthusiasm not only for the animal experts but also their beloved species is infectious: "I suffer with a surfeit of empathy for both nature and humanity," he admits towards the end of the book. "What I have learned.." he concludes, "is that by applying ourselves to just one aspect of the beautiful and alarmingly fragile diversity of the natural world, we can learn to love not just a single species, but the entire web of life that sustains it and us."

As with all of the best comedy, there are some deeply touching and resonantly serious moments. Warwick also has a warning: "Seeing more deeply and falling in love both come with risks. The pain we experience as a result can be as immense as the pleasure. 'The stabbing pain of love's awakening' to quote Mahler's 'Song of the Earth' , is joined with the fear of loss.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Entertaining, informative and thought-provoking in equal measure, this is a nice piece of work about the fauna of the British isles. Gives a good balance between things you never knew about particular animals, and a nuanced wake-up call about the predicament of many eco-systems which support and are supported by said beasts.
Having said that in many ways it's a book about people - there's lots of quirky humour about the characters who get obsessed with specific animals, often obscure ones (and the author isn't afraid to poke fun at his own hedgehog-fixation / midlife crisis survival strategies.) Good use of a tenner, in my view.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars nature on your doorstep 3 Aug 2012
Brings Britain's wildlife to life with intelligence, wit, and style. A great read - you'll be looking at nature in new ways.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous book about eccentric animal lovers 11 May 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
"The Beauty in the Beast" by Hugh Warwick (who I admit that I know) is a gorgeous book. I've already given away two copies as birthday presents hoping to inspire my friends to get their own tattoo as part of their mid-life to do list. I'm sure other readers will find themselves thinking about adding a tattoo too. Because I gave my copies away I cannot quote my favourite parts, but I was hooked by the resourceful bee man, the devoted badger bloke, the enthusiastic bat lady and the utter strangeness of the toad priest. These eccentric people are part of the UK's rich wildlife history (as of course Hugh himself is through his prickly affair with hedgehogs) and deserve to have their stories shared.

It's Hugh's curiosity about the animals (yes and the reptiles/insects etc), and their human champions that makes this book captivating reading. There will be some people you KNOW should read this book. But it is also a fabulous gift for the tricky people in your life who you want to give something marvellous, but somehow always end up with socks or soap. Not any more - they can have "The Beauty in the Beast".
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A high-spirited, multifaceted book. 2 Oct 2012
I grew up in the deep countryside, surrounded by pure, untouched nature, insects and animals of all kinds. Whilst they were part of my everyday life, I would not describe myself as an animal lover per se. Yet I bought this book, an unlikely choice for me, after seeing Hugh Warwick speak at the Bristol Festival of Nature this summer. There is something profoundly engaging about the man, and his infectious passion and exuberance are more than conveyed in the book. There are enough personal details - relating to the author, the ambassadors and the animals themselves - for the reader to feel included from the start, involved, invited along for the ride. It is a joy to read, informative without being patronising, and really quite poetic at times. It's full of interesting wildlife anecdotes and humour.
Looking through the table of contents, I have to admit that I was biased as to which animals I'd enjoy reading about, and which would leave me indifferent. However, as Warwick and his ambassadors shattered my preconceptions one by one, I discovered affinities that I never would have imagined.
But behind the congenial tone and (mostly-) cute animal profiles lies a powerful environmental message, which is that if we open up to these creatures, if we let them seduce us then nature will become less anonymous and we will feel compelled to fight for it's preservation - for the sake of the creatures, and our own.
If you're looking for a high-spirited, multifaceted book which will engage, entertain and inform you, then this is the one!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Mr Warwick, the Willy Wonka of British Wildlife. What a marvellous...
My daughter's (reception) class were "studying" Julia Donaldson books, in particular the Gruffalo, when Hugh Warwick came in to talk to the children about British wildlife... Read more
Published 2 months ago by g jones
5.0 out of 5 stars Great relaxing read
I was lucky enough to receive this book as a christmas present and once I turned the first page I was hooked! Warwick's style is laid-back to the point of lying down. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Apple
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic read
My book group read this book this summer - it led to an amazing discussion - we all had different favourite chapters and found ourselves talking about the amazing characters as... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Zoe B
5.0 out of 5 stars What a great idea
Hugh Warwick is passionate about hedgehogs and has one tattooed on his ankle. He decided to have a second and final tattoo of another creature. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Happy Wanderer
5.0 out of 5 stars Ecology has never been so funny
An endearing and comically thrilling page turner, full of eccentric anecdotes about the iconic and not-so-iconic creatures of Britain. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Devonly
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!!
Animals and eccentrics abound in this book and it makes you glad to be British once more!!! Its all in here from Water voles to foxes to mad badger fanatics and off with the toad... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Wendy McFarlane
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for wildlife lovers
I haven't read all the book yet, as I like to read a chapter at a time because they are all self-contained ie: each one about a different animal. Read more
Published 16 months ago by D. J. Wilcox
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
A super book if you are interested in wildlife.
Got it for Water voles and Hedgehogs, but the others are also interesting.
Published 17 months ago by WrexTheDragon
5.0 out of 5 stars The Beauty in The Beast
I am finding that in reading the book I am learning a lot about people with a love of wildlife and also a lot about the wildlife itself and conservation issues. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Els
4.0 out of 5 stars Humorous, wise and inspiring
Following on from 'A Prickly Affair', 'The Beauty in the Beast' is a great example of nature writing. Read more
Published 23 months ago by wildgirl
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