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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Every bit as enjoyable as his columns, 27 Mar. 2010
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CRP - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
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This review is from: My Natural History: The Animal Kingdom and How it Shaped Me (Hardcover)
I enjoy Barnes's writing- his books and columns on sport and wildlife. And it was after reading a touching chapter (The Tiger) from this book in The Times that I bought it.

I opened the amazon pack and was immediately struck by the charming book cover design. It's so reminiscent of the many animal book cover illustrations of my childhood. When Barnes starts the first chapter at his primary school I was already there.

Each chapter describes a specific natural encounter that has illuminated, influenced or enriched his life.

From schooldays and university, through good and bad times at work, relationships, family and fatherhood. Barnes writes with enthusiasm and romance of the wonder, awe and life changing impact nature has had on him.

From the Greater horseshoe bat, via the grey whale and Morelet's crocodile, to the Barn Owl and all the 20 chapters in between we get to read how wildlife has left an indelible stamp on his life.

And there are moments of great humour and warmth here too- you soon appreciate why only Barnes could have spotted a crested pendola at a significant moment in a West Indies test!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Barnes' Barn Owls and much more, 6 Oct. 2010
By 
Stewart M (Victoria, Australia) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: My Natural History: The Animal Kingdom and How it Shaped Me (Hardcover)
This is an honest and often surprisingly personal book that charts the connection, disconnection and reconnection of Simon Barnes with the natural world. In 23 chapters, each one nominally about a different animal (plants clearly don't cut the mustard here!) the author goes to school, university, Asia, Africa, Suffolk and marries. He has two children. He sees whales, birds at the cricket, badgers feasting on nuts, barn owls from his desk and rabbits by the railway. He sees animals he thought he never would and finds ones he did not know were there.

The sense of wonder conveyed by this book is as clear as the connection the author feels with the wild. The chapters develop a familiar rhythm, and most end in an effort to provide an insight into why we should be connected with nature. But the book also contains a number of surprises. The chapter on Rabbits (possibly appropriately!) is one of the best pieces I have read in a very long time on the adventure that is parenthood.

However, I am not sure that this is the book I would recommend to readers who have not read any of Simon Barnes' work before. The subtitle of the book is "The animal kingdom and how it shaped me", and I think that the last word is important here. This is very clearly a book about Simon Barnes. I feel that this really is a "making of" book - not just the making of Barnes himself as the title would suggest, but also his thinking on the natural world and, possibly above all else, of his writing as well. To read this book without first having read some of his other works would seem to be approaching things in the wrong order - meeting the man before you have met his work. I acknowledge that I could be wrong, but I found the "back story" elements about his growing relationship with Africa or Minesmere engaging at least partly because I already knew the "front story" from his other works. I am not sure that this book would have worked as well as it did for me without this kind of prior knowledge.

Don't get me wrong, this is a good book, with an important central message. But I think Barnes has made the points he makes better elsewhere (How to Be Wild).

If you enjoy high quality writing on the natural world, buy this book. But if you want to get the most out of it you may want to read some of the authors other work before hand.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars On the Wild Life, 30 May 2010
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This review is from: My Natural History: The Animal Kingdom and How it Shaped Me (Hardcover)
Barnes is the award-winning Chief Sports Writer for the Times as well as a great wildlife enthusiast and ornithologist who has travelled the world in search of both sport and wildlife. He is erudite, as befits one who is so hugely well read, and a fan of Anthony Powell's "Dance", often working Powellian references into his sports writing.

My Natural History is written in Barnes's light, forthright and eminently readable style. In 23 short chapters it tells the stories of significant moments in Barnes's fifty-odd years in all of which he finds a wildlife connexion - many indeed being centred around wildlife. The tales vary from great achievements (mostly of the wildwood; always understated), through great loves to the occasional disturbing poignancy. It is short, light, bedtime reading, and no worse for that for it could easily be sub-titled "How to be a Success without any Effort while Remaining Interesting and Human".
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4.0 out of 5 stars My Natural History, 27 Feb. 2012
I have enjoyed all the previous books by Simon Barnes and look forward to reading his monthly articles in the RSPB magazine. This was different to his other books in that it was autobiography. The others have been ornithology books. Each chapter title refers to an animal or bird and explains and develops the idea of wildlife effecting his life. An unusual approach to an autobiography spawning a most enjoyable book. If you have enjoyed any of his books then read this. You will enjoy it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great book!, 22 Jan. 2014
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Love this book, all about the author and his journey through life with nature. I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in nature.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A must read, 22 Jun. 2013
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A wonderful, thought provoking book. I laughed and cried and learnt a lot. A must read for nature lovers and everyone else.
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My Natural History: The Animal Kingdom and How it Shaped Me
My Natural History: The Animal Kingdom and How it Shaped Me by Simon Barnes (Hardcover - 4 Mar. 2010)
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