This book tells a fascinating story. You might think that the mammals of the British Isles can be simply divided into indigenous species and those introduced by man, but Derek Yalden shows the story is much more complicated than that. Climate change and human activities have shaped the numbers and distribution of our mammalian species in a complex way. This book sets out to recreate the history of those effects since the last glaciation. This is no coffee table book but a thorough scientific review. The earlier chapters may be a little difficult for those with no scientific knowledge, but he does give brief, but adequate, explanations of techniques such as carbon 14 dating. Activities such as game keeping and hunting are treated objectively and dispassionately, as are potential reintroductions, such as the beaver, the lynx and the wolf. At the same time his enthusiasm for his subject pervades the book. While most information comes from mainland Britain, the individual natural histories of Ireland, Mann, the Scillies and the larger Scottish islands are equally fascinating and often enigmatic. There are encouraging stories, such as the recent recovery of the otter, but also some worrying ones, such as the red squirrel and, more surprisingly, the red deer. My only criticism is that on a few of the maps the different types of shading are difficult to differentiate and one or two have no key to their symbols. This is an excellent book and anyone with an interest in either British mammals, or the relationship between man and animals in general will find it compelling reading.
Seminal. Theres no other word to describe this magnificently-crafted book. Yalden weaves a rich tale, beginning with the mammal fauna of the last ice age, through to the extinctions of big mammals in historical times, and eventually the distribution and conservation of the mammals we see around us today are discussed. The writing style is chatty and informal, and this really is an enjoyable read. This book has something for everyone, whether you are someone purely with an interest in the natural history of the Bristish Isles, or an academic interested in biogeography or mammalogy. A cracking read - buy it.
This book is bound to be amazing. Yalden's other book in this "series" - "the history of british birds" is the most authoritative book I have ever read on the archaeological sources for British birds, ranging back to the Holocene and forward into the historic era. I will buy this book in a heartbeat when it gets page numbers, even at the massive £30 price tag. So why oh why won't amazon add them?!
This is quite a small book so at £45 why so expensive ? The biggest problem for me is the text size which is 10pts. It is tiny and along with the type of font, I find it extremely difficult to read. I will have to send the book back and possibly buy a kindle version.