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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful new release, 20 April 2014
This review is from: Hedgehog (Animal) (Paperback)
Comprehensive coverage of many aspects of his amazing little animal, which is becoming a rarity in the British countryside. Truly compulsive reading.
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5.0 out of 5 stars (quite unexpectedly) often laugh out loud funny. Hugh Warwick has a wide-ranging and constantly curious ..., 5 July 2014
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F. Marshall (Mid- Wales) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Hedgehog (Animal) (Paperback)
I was not sure what to expect (and am not a big fan of animal books) but found this book absorbing, highly entertaining, and, (quite unexpectedly) often laugh out loud funny.

Hugh Warwick has a wide-ranging and constantly curious mind that makes him the perfect chronicler of this unusual and much loved animal, and he keeps it all moving along very well, moving between zoological authority and self deprecation, high art and low art, meticulous research and anecdote. So he starts with a learned discussion of the evolution of the spines and the taxonomic complexity of the order Eulipotyphla and ends with an extremely funny description of the International Hedgehog Olympic Games in Denver. And there is much poetry, ancient myth, song, art, stuffed toys, tattoos, Sonics, Tiggywinkles and even porn in between.

This celebration of all things hedgehog makes the serious point- that wild populations are plumetting - all the more painful to hear, and I found his gentle and ultimately hopeful approach to this crisis far more moving than a maudlin lament.

The book this is very well illustrated and the quality of the printing and photographs is higy. My only real complaint is the pocket book size- chosen by Reaktion for its whole series on animals - is just too small for the illustrations and text and makes the book seem less thorough than it is...still, an unexpected delight.
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5.0 out of 5 stars More than a prickly affair, 15 Jun 2014
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R. A. Mayers "Spikez" (Welwyn, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Hedgehog (Animal) (Paperback)
Hugh Warwick has produced a wonderful ode to the hedgehog. This book is more than just a quick reference about what a hedgehog is and where you might see one rustling about (not many places!), but a study into the rich history and symbolism of these fascinating little beings. Starting with their historical uprising, the significance of hogs within literary texts and their recurrence in philosophical proverbs, you begin to understand why Hugh has dedicated his life to their cause.

By the end of the book you'll be enlightened and will definitely want to follow his top tips about how to support them, especially if you're fortunate enough to come across a healthy, iconic British hedgehog. You won't regret it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and entertaining, 19 May 2014
This review is from: Hedgehog (Animal) (Paperback)
There can be few animals more recognisable and yet as elusive as the hedgehog. We all know what they look like – the pointed snout and coat of spines (actually modified hairs) – are unmistakable, but how many of us have actually seen one in the flesh? Hedgehogs are nocturnal animals that generally hibernate for several months of the year, so for most people they have never been a familiar sight, but habitat loss caused by changing agricultural practices and the spread of roads, which present a frequently lethal and often impenetrable barrier, have combined to make sightings rarer still. In Britain alone, the hedgehog population is estimated to have plummeted from around 30 million animals in 1950 to less than 1.5 million today, a 95 per cent reduction.

Worldwide, there are 14 species of hedgehog spread across Africa, Europe and Asia. African hedgehogs have also been exported to North America, where they have become popular if surprising pets, featuring in such bizarre events as the International Hedgehog Association’s Conformation Show and the International Hedgehog Olympic Games! If hedgehogs make unlikely athletes, two myths about them can be firmly dismissed. Unlike humans, hedgehogs do not steal milk from a cow’s udder; indeed, milk is an unsuitable food for them. Neither do they collect fallen fruit on their spines: hedgehogs are carnivores whose favourite foods include beetles, earthworms, caterpillars and (to every gardener’s delight) slugs.

Like other books in Reaktion’s Animal series, Hedgehog profiles the cultural significance of the animal as much as its natural history. Thus, the book’s nine chapters include ones covering hedgehogs in art, literature, folklore, commerce, and even in philosophy, where the animal has given its name to Schopenhauer’s “hedgehog’s dilemma”, whereby the closer you become to someone the more likely you are to get hurt. This is all very interesting, but the reviewer would have liked rather more about the lives of real hedgehogs (popular though he may be, Sonic the Hedgehog is a cartoon character, not a hedgehog). For this, readers might be better advised to seek out A Prickly Affair: The Charm of the Hedgehog, the author’s previous book on the subject.

Nevertheless, there is much in Hedgehog to fascinate and entertain the reader, and anything that Oxford-based ecologist and author Hugh Warwick doesn’t tell us about hedgehogs probably isn’t worth knowing. The book is liberally and attractively illustrated, and makes satisfying, undemanding reading. Sadly, it might also prove to be the closest that many readers will get to these endearing but increasingly rare mammals.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Book Review by Fay Vass, Chief Executive, British Hedgehog Preservation Society., 28 April 2014
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This review is from: Hedgehog (Animal) (Paperback)
I heard Hugh give a talk where he said that a neighbour had accused him of milking the hedgehog when he found out a second book was on its way. But this new one is very different to A Prickly Affair. It is part of a long running series of beautifully illustrated books that concentrate on the iconography of different groups of species - so while it does touch on the animal itself, in particular the final chapter looks at the threats faced by hedgehogs and what we can do to help - the bulk of the book is taken up with looking at the ways in which the hedgehog has be represented in art, literature, advertising etc. over the past few thousand years.

It is one of the things that I have always loved about the hedgehog, that there is so much more to it than just the animal itself. They have been a part of human culture since the dawn of civilisation - the very earliest, Mesopotamia and Babylonian, have left hedgehog artefacts. The Ancient Egyptians in particular seem to have been very fond of the animal. These things I knew. But the way the hedgehog has appeared more recently is quite astounding - and Hugh has a field day with everything from philosophy to poetry, via some rather more adult themes and over a hundred pictures.

Our humble hedgehog has been the inspiration for many amazing ideas - Archilochus from ancient Greece, and Schopenhauer more recently, both developed profound insights into the human condition with the aid of the hedgehog. The great composer Brahms would only eat at the tavern called the Red Hedgehog. And the hedgehog has been key to the advertising of everything from sponges to cider - and, rather unfortunately I think, cars.

I would really recommend this unique book to anyone with an interest in hedgehogs. Despite taking a serious look at some of the big issues, Hugh manages to sprinkle his trademark wit and charm throughout. And I can only feel for the disappointment he had when he eventually got to try Hedgehog Whisky! Get the book, and then book him to give a talk - he will make you both think and laugh.
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Hedgehog (Animal)
Hedgehog (Animal) by Hugh Warwick
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