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At the Water's Edge: A Personal Quest for Wildness
At the Water's Edge: A Personal Quest for Wildness
by John Lister-Kaye
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.99

43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't be fooled by the title: this is thought-provoking stuff about our relationship with the world around us!, 15 Feb. 2010
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and found it very thought-provoking.

But I have one criticism, which is that I think that the title doesn't really explain what the book is about and rather "undersells" it as a result.

John Lister-Kaye writes beautifully about his relationship with his surroundings in the Highlands of Scotland and the creatures around him. But he also writes very honestly too, not sparing us the details of the reality of that world. He has the knowledge and the experience to be a very articulate guide for those of us who've lost touch with this reality.

For one reason or another we aren't often reminded of how things are out in the wild. As someone who lives in a city, I admit to enjoying glossy TV programmes about "nature", but I hate watching the bits where some beautiful creature gets hurt or killed, or kills or hurts something else, or (sadly almost inevitably) faces a bleak future with nowhere to go because of mankind's ever expanding impact on our planet.

This book is something of an antidote to that world view. It's about so much more than the title implies: big thoughts, brutally honest reflections, the kind of insights apparent only to someone continually being jolted out of any complacency by a proximity to wild nature and a lifetime's study of it. John Lister-Kaye raises and explores issues that we ALL should be really concerned about: What is a sustainable human population? Why has our view of the natural world morphed into an over-sentimental, sanitised, High Definition, remote "elsewhere"? And what does this mean for the future of the human race and the planet we call home?

21st century human beings (including me!) are generally too far removed from nature to understand and appreciate it for what it is. To me, this is exactly the kind of book we need to read to help us get back in touch.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 9, 2010 4:40 AM GMT


Song Of The Rolling Earth: A Highland Odyssey
Song Of The Rolling Earth: A Highland Odyssey
by Sir John Lister-Kaye
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Amazing Story of the Highlands of Scotland, 9 May 2007
This book is a hidden gem. Before reading it I noticed that on the back of the paperback that it's categorized as a "memoir". Thank goodness I didn't let that put me off - in my experience memoirs all too easily drift into dull and pompous self-aggrandizement. The genius of this book is that John Lister-Kaye uses his own personal experiences, his breadth and depth of knowledge and his lovely writing style to bring the extraordinary story of the Highlands of Scotland to life. It's a massive and often sad story, but the minutest details of the personalities, the wildlife and even the geology of the Highlands just jump off the page. Big insights are tucked away, for example the massive influence of the Victorian landowning classes "world view" on what we now believe to be classic Highland scenery. Thanks to the certainty with which they classed all creatures either as "game" to be treasured and preserved at all costs, or "vermin" to be reviled and obliterated, they produced "deserts" of heather-clad moorland, devoid of natural diversity. The history of human endeavour in this unforgiving landscape, the massive and turbulent geological story and the fascinating creatures who've adapted themselves to live here are all explored with knowledge and panache. This is so much more than a memoir, it should be required reading for all who care about the Highlands of Scotland, its people and its wildlife.


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