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A story that had to be told
on 21 November 2012
Most people who know a little about the history of nature conservation will have heard of the fiersome ladies who started the RSPB in 1889 to protest about the plumage trade. But despite some of the protagonists of the present book still being in living memory and their impact on birds conservation being just as important, it hasn't really come to light before now.
This book brilliantly tells how four diverse young men found lifelong friendship through their common interest in birds in the most horrific of circumstances, and how the ripples from that friendship still affect our understanding of birds today. John Buxton's definitive study on The Redstart arose from his observations during the war, and there have been few finer monographs. And Peter Condor's contribution to the development of Europe's largest nature conservation charity lives on.
This isn't an easy tale to read because it's so well written. Some of the details of daily life in the camps is harrowing, but it is ultimately uplifting. The war scarred all four men in the book, but the redeeming power of a common interest in birds shines through.
If you are interested in history, in birds, in people's struggle against adversity, or just in a great read, I would strongly recommend this book.