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I read this as someone who has considered rewilding a lot and has a degree in ecology and was hoping for big, sweeping solutions to the problem of aggressive agriculture and misguided conservationism. I got it, but not as much as I wanted. The personal passages where George demonstrates his knack for a metaphor and his yearning for an actual man-cave are great and inspirational for anyone who spends too much time in front of a computer and never gets their feet wet. It made me want to go coasteering again or build a mud hut in the woods and live off berries and owl pellets or whatever it is wild people do these days. The other part of the book is a depressing catalogue of destruction as Monbiot describes many shocking practices that are wiping out any vestige of wildlife we have, on land and at sea (our treatment of ocean environments is nothing short of disgraceful) and how powerless we are to do anything about it in the face of rich landowners and the well-connected hunting lobbyists. He doesn't provide solutions in enough detail to convince such people to change their ways, but the evidence of the harm being done is irrefutable.

I recommend this book to anyone with a beating heart.
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on 27 October 2014
Every now and then a book comes along with a radical insight into ecology. Previous examples include Gaia by James E. Lovelock, Silent Spring by Rachel Carson and A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold. All these books were powerful examples of new ecological thinking which set new agendas for politicians and public alike. George Monbiot's Feral is the latest example of this kind of writing and there has rarely been a more powerful, convincing and necessary case for change put forward anywhere than this one.

Delving into the past, Monbiot reveals an Earth rich in resources, in balance but stumbling into the present (and god forbid the future) we are shown just how far we have failed in our stewardship of the planet. Senseless political arguments, reckless capitalism and even well meaning but deeply flawed conservation projects have led us to a precipice, now we need to re-examine our connection with nature and Monbiot proposes a radical re-wilding programme to achieve that. For this reader it all makes sense and the arguments are powerful and well researched but above all the author brings us "that rare and precious substance, hope".
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 31 July 2013
This is an extraordinary book - passionate, funny, angry and utterly gripping. Crammed with facts and figures about things as they are and captivating exploration of things as they could be. Reading this connected a lot of things I had previously 'known' but not managed to pull together into a coherent argument. It is obvious that much of the British uplands is barren waste, kept that way by overgrazing; Monbiot's description of 'sheepwreck' explains what is going on here, and how removing the sheep could result in a dramatic increase in biodiversity on our hills. It is clear that the re-establishment of boar in England has been a good thing (though I think Monbiot underestimates their numbers); Monbiot explains how the reintroduction of megafauna creates trophic cascades which benefit many other species. The possibilities of bringing back the big beasts to Britain fires the imagination and Monbiot provides a list of potential species. These range from what should be completely uncontroversial (though it is) such as the reintroduction of the beaver, to the wildly unlikely, such as the spotted hyena ('likely to face certain political difficulties').

An important feature of this book is that it is in no manner anti-human. Rather, the rewilding Monbiot proposes would be likely to increase the sum total of human health and happiness - and prosperity.

'Feral' is an important book containing ideas that should be seriously considered. It is also beautifully written. Read it and let your imagination run wild.
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on 4 August 2015
Monbiot gives a series of eloquent, unusually detailed accounts of his little adventures in wilderness areas. The accounts lead to moments where the connection to life and all that has come before us hits him like a wave of sheer vitality. This is not a book of altruism toward nature. It's a book of passionate enjoyment and thirst to increase the joy of life. And for Monbiot, that means finding ways to let wildness flourish. He wants creatures that have been extinct in Britain for hundreds of years to return. He wants the long-barren mountains of Wales to bloom again. He wants to liberate our children from the control-freakhood that eliminates all wild spaces in our communities and removes all access for kids to experience the wonder of nature. Rather than "preserving" landscapes as they were in the environmentally degraded past, he wants to push the envelope of diversity and complexity, just for the joy and beauty of it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 25 August 2013
My favorite non-fiction so far. Excellent descriptions of landscapes and the creatures that inhabit them. A fascinating marriage of poetic prose and raw science which compels the reader to work to rekindle our relationship with the wild. Would recommend to anyone and everyone. In fact I pretty much have.
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on 3 October 2014
This is evidently the culmination of a lot of thought and experience, the tip of the iceberg is visible in this book.

George Monbiot argues a consistent, and to me commonsense, approach to what conservation should be looking to achieve. Much of what we are currently doing in the conservation sphere could be radically transformed through an intelligent re-appraisal of what we are looking to achieve and how we do this - e.g. using Lynx to manage deer numbers; deriving economic benefits from charismatic wildlife tourism rather than subsidising sheep on unfavourable land; properly enforced marine sanctuaries to increase fishing stocks outside the protected area.

This is very different to the traditional view of conservation (e.g. paraphrased as keep things as they are) and will cause much provocation. This is a good thing, stagnant waters are good in swamps but not in thinking.
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on 29 June 2015
Monbiot's tales are both factual and exciting, as he takes the common land around us and exposes it for what it is. The result of years of man-created destruction. The robbing of trees, flowers, animals and water. Often by other animals. The phrase 'sheep-wrecked' is now in my vocabulary.

His ability to convey massive concepts, and hugely complex examples and reasons, is really impressive. I wonder whether he might over-simplify, to aid his argument, sometimes but, then, this is a manifesto, so he can do what he likes.

One star detracted for the insistent chapter-opening descents into faux-poetical wanderings and bizarre wordy-lyricism, before getting on with the chapter meat. Often had me wondering whether to continue, until I realised that you just need to brace for it and plough through until he stops it.
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on 29 November 2014
An original and informative book by Monbiot that I really enjoyed reading. My only criticisms would be his rambling account of his own life in the first chapter, which did nothing but made me jealous that I can't have the life of a Guardian journalist, as Monbiot apparently spends most of his time canoeing around the welsh coast. My other niggle was the insistence that rewildling was a viable alternative to conservation in its current form, to me the reason why we have 'overly managed' reserves in the UK is due to a lack of land that can be declared protected, not as Monbiot seems to argue that because the money spent on managing these reserves could be spent on buying more land. Overall a very interesting read, well worth the money.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 4 July 2013
I'm biased as I rate George Monbiot as the best environmental writer around - this book creates a real yearning for a wilder countryside, a heavy sense of loss but also hope for the future . Although it conjures some rather sensational headlines of reintroducing elephants and rhinos to the UK, the approach of re-directing subsidies and re-wilding unproductive uplands really is common sense - beavers, bears, wolves, lynx and moose could live alongside us and support our rural economies more than sheep and grouse.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 3 July 2013
We have all come to think that the Scottish Highlands are treeless sheep covered mountains which support very little wildlife apart from the occasional hooded crow and rabbit. George Monbiot shows that it could be so different. Initiatives such as "Trees for Life" and other "rewilding" projects are explained and reading this book will persuade us to support their hard work. The Clearances were bad enough but today's landowners are more concerned with grouse and deer shooting than with restoring the natural ecology of the hills. The income from deer stalking only meets about a third of the cost of running an estate. The book is full of statistics which will quickly become dated, but the underlying principles will remain.

The book looks more broadly than the situation in Scotland. Every chapter is very revealing and a call for action. George Monbiot advocates 'five star' solutions to a society which has not shown much concern for the issues so far, but would be hard pressed to accept a 'one star' course of action.

I had to read the whole book because at first I felt some of the ideas were daft. In the end my conclusion was that this is an important call to action. I hope it will be widely read and feel compelled to encourage many friends to read it.
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