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Customer Review

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An ecological approach to wild life, 19 Jan. 2011
This review is from: Chris Packham's Back Garden Nature Reserve (Paperback)
I bought this book on the strength of the two star review here that criticised it as too opinionated. Chris Packham has been passionate about wildlife since he was a child and has a real wealth of experience. His TV co-presenter Kate Humble described him as 'brainy' and he certainly comes across as a thinking man. So, for me, his opinions and his passion for the subject are exactly what makes this book valuable.

So what are opinions that the other reviewer said came across too strongly? Well what came across to me was Packham's staunch ecological perspective. For Packham the concept of a 'pest' is misguided. Packham is passionate about all wildlife from the biggest to the smallest and the book contains sections like 'Living with urban foxes', 'Grey squirrels - Value or villians', 'Rats - please give these rodents a refuge', 'Saving Private Slug', 'Wasps, and he even has something positive to say about cockcroaches.

His own definition of 'pest' is: 'those species which out-smart and exploit us, those which are actually far more successful organisms than Homo sapians and have the gall to shove the fact in our faces'.

Of course the book is far more than just railing against the concept of 'pest'. It's divided into 7 chapters:

1. Introduction
2. Birds
3. Mammals
4. Invertebrates
5. Ponds (which includes info on amphibians and reptiles)
6. Plants
7. Photography

Each of these is further subdivided into separate topics which generally span a page or two.

For me what let the book down was the graphic design which was bland and unattractive. The photos were mostly OK and the illustrations were good. It's not a particularly comprehensive book. There's enough info to get you going but it's not like a DIY instruction book which goes through every detail step by step.

Pond construction is covered on just one page (plus another page for design) and Packham concludes butyl rubber is the best way to make one. If you want say, a concrete one, then you'll definitely need to look elsewhere. Most of the pond chapter is focused on the flora and fauna you want in your pond. There are, of course, whole books on creating garden ponds if you want more detail. This book is not that long: 139 pages of decent sized text with lots of pictures. I can see why some people would want something with a bit more detail.

There is a lot of opinion in there that perhaps goes against the grain but for me that's what makes the reading more lively and interesting.
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Review Details

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Reviewer

S. Lewis
(REAL NAME)   

Location: Sheffield, UK

Top Reviewer Ranking: 74,929