The Illustrated History of the Countryside Paperback – 12 May 1997
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It would seem a mammoth task to trace the history of the British countryside, but one that the author achieves well. With more than 100 colour photographs, the book appears almost as a cross between a geography textbook and a glossy coffee-table book. Whatever it is, it's un-put-downable for anyone who has any interest in the countryside, giving a vivid overview of how and why our landscape is as it is today. (SHOOTING TIMES & COUNTRY MAGAZINE (July 2003))
Any walk, any drive, any bike ride, anywhere in the British countryside will take you past such a wealth of history that you'd never get anywhere if you stopped to explore and appreciate all that's there. When you do stop to take a look though, you'll need a guide to explain what it is you're looking at. Oliver Rackham's marvellous book is that guide... And even if you never leave your house, THE ILLUSTRATED... is so full of fascinating anecdotes about the way our landscape has been changed (LIVING HISTORY (September 2003))
This is a wonderful account of the English countryside and man's influence upon it over the centuries. Profusely illustrated, it explains simply, for example, why fens were created, the effects of the introduction of the rabbit and the way to coppice woods. (FAMILY HISTORY MONTHLY (September 2003))
This is a rural detective story, a book that looks at history, ecology and consrvation in the countryside and details the many-layered story of the British landscape...and recording human intervention and activity along with natural phenomena... Illustrated with more than 100 colour plates including maps and photoraphs, this is a handy guide-cum-reference book that is also a pleasure to read (HOME & COUNTRY (WI) (October 2003))
Repackaged and beautifully illustrated, Rackham's classic guide to the shaping of our countryside reveals the fascinating - and often shady - past of the British landscape. (COUNTRYSIDE VOICE (Autumn 2003))
How to read the landscape around you, and walk in it with knowledge and understanding. A fascinating exploration of Britain, to read with pleasure. (CHOICE (November 2003))
Each [chapter] is a carefully documented record of developments from the earliest times to 2000, from the original wildwood to our present patchwork countryside ... idiosyncratic and stimulating book. (COUNTRYMAN (October 2003))
Crammed full to capacity with information about the landscape and nature, and including some splendid walks in some fo the author's favourite areas, this is a book that will please any country lover. (THIS ENGLAND (Winter 2003))
The erudition of the author across all aspects of how history, in the form of animals, climate and man have shaped the British countryside is exceptional. It is not just the weight of fact and insight that impresses but the way these are woven together in a readable and accessible form... it is impossible to delve into these pages without discovering some fascinating fact about the countryside. A worthwhile addition to any country library. (THE FIELD (December 2003)) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
A fascinating companion guide to the true story of Britain's countrysideSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The British countryside was made: barely an acre of our land is in its prehistoric state. This book shows how woods, fields ponds and heath grew up alongside mankind; how they were used, and how historical documents as well as the land itself takes us far back into history.
The land changes slowly, and despite the damage of the last 100 years there is much of historical interest to be found, and the guided walks of the illustrated edition take you there.
A beautiful example of how a lifelong academic can remain passionate about his subject and totally readable. I read the non-illustrated version, but I checked the illustrated one in the local bookshop and it looks fantastic.
Oliver Rackham's highly respected knowledge ensures this is a valuable reference book on the subject, and his clear writing skills make it an easy and fascinating read in its own right. It is beautifully illustrated with numerous maps and plans, some diagrams and a wealth of high quality photographs.
I initially borrowed this book from the library, but decided it was a must to own a copy. I now constantly dip into it for information, or just curl up and read it for pleasure.
Rackham arranges his book thematically. Chapter headings are:
Rural Detection; Animals and Plants; Woodland; Wood Pasture; Boundaries and Fields; Trees of Hedgerow and Farmland; Highways; Grassland and Heath; Moorland; Ponds, Dells and Pits; Marshes, Fens, Rivers and the Sea. Here the text broadly follows the original edition, and there is a bibliography of suggested further reading, and a detailed index at the back.
There are, in addition 8 annotated walks, which are like mini-field-trips, designed to let you see many of the features described in the book out there in the landscape. Unfortunately the book is rather too large and heavy to take with you, so you'd presumably photocopy the relevant pages before setting out.Read more ›
So, what of the content of the book itself? Well, it's very definitive. Rackham covers every British habitat, describing how each has changed since the end of the last Ice Age. As he does so, he scours the archives for any and every literary source he can find to help him with his historical documentation. You can tell that this guy went to Cambridge University. He references all of his sources very professionally, compiling a neat list of them at the back of the book. In fact, his research has been so extensive that there are over SIX HUNDRED references! He really has tried his utmost best here to give us a complete record of how our countryside has been shaped through history. Nevertheless, history of every guise is always going to be incomplete, and in this book, you really can feel those gaping holes screaming at you from the pages. However, I'm beyond nit-picking there, and those historical gaps are most certainly not Rackhams' fault. So yes, on the whole, I have nothing but praise here. Also good to see is the way in which Rackham writes it.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Bought used on Amazon. An authoritative account by a remarkable, if rather opinionated, scholar.Published 4 months ago by M. G. Sangster
This is a cheap edition but the book is so good doesn't matterPublished 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
As it wasn't for me and I have had no comment from the recipient I cannot comment.Published 5 months ago by david mitchell
This is an excellent book. Oliver Rackhan has written a masterpiece covering all aspects of the countryside with academic rigour in an authoritative but readable style. Read morePublished 7 months ago by M. Greig
fascinating book, worthwhile read for anyone..and shows the author's longstanding interest. Nobody better, yet!Published 7 months ago by Susan B
Brilliant book, rather let down by the poor quality of the print.Published 9 months ago by R. Haldane
Still reading, but very interesting, and gives you a good picture of what has gone on in the countyside.Published 9 months ago by Mark Skerry