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The Peregrine [Paperback]

J. A. Baker , John Fanshawe , Mark Cocker
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
RRP: £12.99
Price: £10.39 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

9 Jun 2011

Reissue of J. A. Baker’s extraordinary classic of British nature writing

Despite the association of peregrines with the wild, outer reaches of the British Isles, The Peregrine is set on the flat marshes of the Essex coast, where J A Baker spent a long winter looking and writing about the visitors from the uplands – peregrines that spend the winter hunting the huge flocks of pigeons and waders that share the desolate landscape with them.

Including original diaries from which The Peregrine was written and its companion volume The Hill of Summer, this is a beautiful compendium of lyrical nature writing at its absolute best.

Such luminaries as Richard Mabey, Robert Macfarlane, Ted Hughes and Andrew Motion have cited this as one of the most important books in 20th Century nature writing, and the bestselling author Mark Cocker has provided an introduction on the importance of Baker, his writings and the diaries – creating the essential volume of Baker's writings.

Since the hardback was published in 2010, papers, maps, and letters have come to light which in turn provide a little more background into J A Baker’s history. Contemporaries – particularly from while he was at school in Chelmsford – have kindly provided insights, remembering a school friend who clearly made an impact on his generation. In the longer term, there is hope of an archive of these papers being established, but in the meantime, and with the arrival of this paperback edition, there is a chance to reveal a little more of what has been learned.

Among fragments of letters to Baker was one from a reader who praised a piece that Baker had written in RSPB Birds magazine in 1971. Apart from a paper on peregrines which Baker wrote for the Essex Bird Report, this article – entitled On the Essex Coast – appears to be his only other published piece of writing, and, with the kind agreement of the RSPB, it has been included in this updated new paperback edition of Baker’s astounding work.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Collins (9 Jun 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007395906
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007395903
  • Product Dimensions: 23.5 x 15.4 x 3.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 129,433 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


‘…an inspiring example to future writers, and a gift to lovers of nature.’
The Times Literary Supplement

‘… a literary masterpiece, one of the 20th century’s outstanding examples of nature writing.’

‘The Peregrine should be known as one of the finest works on nature ever written'
BBC Wildlife

‘… some of the most marvellous prose of the twentieth century.’
Literary Review

‘A tour de force … what can I do except praise writing which involves all the senses? This book goes altogether outside the bird-book into literature.’
The Sunday Times

‘A rapt and remarkable book … his phrases have a magnesium-flare intensity.’

‘… what is certain is that The Peregrine is the most precise and poetic account of a bird – possibly of any non-human creature – ever written in English prose.’
The Daily Telegraph

‘J. A. Baker's poetic prose has a hard intensity and an exquisite lyric grace that takes it far beyond the stereotypical stuff of larks ascending and questing voles. Cruelly beautiful and brutally exact, it sees the countryside anew to give us nature in the wild and in the raw.’
The Scotsman

‘Including original diaries from which The Peregrine was written and its companion volume, The Hill of Summer, this is a beautiful compendium of lyrical nature writing at its absolute best […]. For those with an interest in the Peregrine Falcon or classic natural history writing. ‘
The Guardian

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poetic, Stark, Strange beauty, 14 Oct 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Click buy, now! Why? Let this extract speak for itself. I know there are many passages concerning the eponymous and majestic Peregrine but this is a good example of how Baker can transform the mundane to something quite profound and revelatory:

'At midday I saw a fox, far out on the saltings, leaping and splashing through the incoming tide. On drier ground he walked; his fur was sleek and dark with wetness, his brush limp and dripping. He shook himself like a dog, sniffed the air, and trotted towards the sea-wall. Suddenly he stopped. Looking through binoculars, I saw the small pupils of his eyes contract and dilate in their white-flecked yellow irises. Eyes savagely alive, light smouldering within, yet glitteringly opaque as jewels. Their unchanging glare was fixed upon me as the fox walked slowly forward. When he stopped again, he was only ten yards away, and I lowered the binoculars. He stood there for more than a minute, trying to understand me with his nose and ears, watching me with his baffled, barbaric eyes. Then the breeze conveyed my fetid human smell, and the beautiful roan coloured savage became a hunted fox again, ducking and darting away, streaming over the sea-wall and across the long green fields beyond.'
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The myth of hawks 31 May 2010
'The Peregrine' has become something of a landmark book for me. When I was young (like 10 - 16) I had a real obsession with birds, and in particular birds of prey. This book does not just describe the bird and it's world - but reveals something of that feeling of wanting to enter it which anyone who has loved birds will know.

Recently I've picked up the binoculars and headed out into the countryside again - this book is largely responsible for that, and I think it must be the best nature writing which can rekindle that love of wild things.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Silly Typos spoiling a superb book 17 Mar 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The Peregrine is a superb book, having read the book previously in paperback I was keen to re-read it on Kindle. Unfortunately the ebook has numerous very irritating typos which spoil the poetry and flow of this book. It was not cheap and I am disappointed in this lazy editing. Would recommend you read this book in print.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book 18 April 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
In 1967 when I was 13 I read this book and it changed my life. I now read it once a year. I have various hard copies and now I have the kindle version. I would recommend it highly. If you are not that interested in scientific side of birds miss out the first chapter and go straight to the diary its like one huge long poetic work.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A work of genius 20 Mar 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Quite literally one of the greatest books ever written. Singular, vivid, wild and unsettling. Whether you like nature writing or not, if you like writing you will love The Peregrine
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Soaring Words 17 Sep 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a lyrical and perceptive masterpiece, one of the finest studies of nature ever written. Read it with awe and delight.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing descriptive writing 12 May 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Everyone who loves the countryside, birds or the natural environment should read this book as well as those who enjoy well structured prose.
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