- Also check our best rated Travel Book reviews
The Moor: Lives Landscape Literature Hardcover – 15 May 2014
Customers who bought this item also bought
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
A remarkable book. (John Carey Sunday Times)
An ambitious mix of history, topography, literary criticism and nature writing, in the tradition of WG Sebald, Robert MacFarlane and Olivia Laing . . . One of the strengths of Atkins's book is its resistance to the obvious. (Blake Morrison Guardian Book of the Week)
'This is a wonderful, teeming book, and those stoutly poetic souls who favour moorland over lush valleys, rolling dales and even snow-capped fells will cherish it, and consider it quite the classic.' (Rachel Cooke Observer)
'A rich and nuanced read ... an exquisite piece of topographical writing; beautifully observed and evoking a powerful, poignant sense of place.' (BBC Countryfile Magazine)
Not since Tim Binding's haunting On Ilkley Moor (2001) has a writer evoked the uncanny spirit of the moors so powerfully. Vivid with incident and exquisite description. (Philip Hoare New Statesman)
(Atkins') reflections on the ecology, legends and literature are as poetic as shrewd; they fill the empty places with subtle colour, high romance and natural history. (Iain Finlayson The Times)
The Moor is deeply enjoyable, a book worth reading and re-reading, sun or shower, indoors or out. (Spectator)
In William Atkins the moors have found their voice. Beautifully and darkly, with great learning and exquisite observation, the odd wet backbone of England from Cornwall to the Borders is made new. Never have these apparently empty places been revealed as so operative on our national psyche. His is a marvellously saturated book. (Tim Dee)
The non-fiction book of the year: an astonishing, beautiful and remarkable work of muddy brilliance. (Stuart Evers)
This is a book that is like the most perfect kind of walk. William Atkins takes us on a tour through the moorland scenery of Britain, and reveals it to be both stranger and more familiar than I had ever imagined it to be. He is a guide as familiar with nineteenth-century eccentrics as he is with the breeding habits of grouse, and as comfortable with poachers as with poets. Beautiful and memorable. (Tom Holland)
A visceral and joyous account ... perhaps Atkins' real strength beyond his impeccable writing, is his personalisation of the moors. He digs deep into the peat to unearth lesser known stories of lives lead in, on or around the moorlands ... [The moors] are harsh and wet and unforgiving and for that reason occupy a special corner of the human imagination. Atkins serves them well and might just have written a comprehensively researched and poetically-rendered future classic. (Ben Myers Caught by the River)
Exquisite, visceral, and perpetually surprising ... An extraordinary new portrait of these mythic blasted heaths. (Philip Hoare)
The Moor: Lives Landscape Literature by William Atkins gives us the story of the moors - from Bodmin Moor, Dartmoor and Exmoor in the southwest up to the Scottish border, via Yorkshire and Northumberland - and how they have shaped our people, culture and industry.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Atkins' fascination with a small stretch of moor close to his childhood home in Bishop's Waltham opens the book, which then takes a south-to-north tour round these moody, unstable and uniquely British landscapes. In each section, the narrative cuts frequently between the lives of individuals, both past and present, who have struggled to make a living (and/or stay sane) in these boggy, mostly barren spaces, the literary writers – both well and lesser known – whose imaginations have responded to their emptiness (RD Blackmore, Henry Williamson, Ted Hughes, WH Auden, the Bronte Sisters, amongst others) and Atkins' own commentary, as he tramps - 'landlopes' - across the endless heaths and bogs, these 'blacklands', scoffing junk food and trying to inveigle himself with the locals. The book is eloquently written, well researched and highly informative. There are illuminating encounters with gamekeepers and landowners, farmers, birders, poets. Its only problem is that the descriptions of landscape inevitably become repetitious; moorland to look at has a very British mundanity to it (even if the weather there is capricious, even duplicitous): you certainly won't read another book in which the words 'peat' and 'sphagnum' are repeated quite as regularly; the manuscript could easily have been cut by 25 pages. But as a paean to the ambiguous attractions of the imperious spaces that sit damply and darkly in the British psyche, ‘The Moor’ is well worth exploring.
However, as the book went on, I got drawn in progressively, and in the later part of the book, the exploration of farmers struggling with moorland improvement for farming; gamekeepers protecting their grouse moors while decimating all perceived predators, wiping out a species like hen harriers; the mining history in the Alston area of the North Pennines, and the Military ranges of Otterburn were far more informative and intriguing . My opinion changed, and I could see the hard work, both physically on the ground, and through academic research, and seeking out different individuals to give their unique perspective and slant on things insightful and rewarding.
It seems to get better as the author got into his stride, and progressed further north ,and by the end I had been won over. It is not a light read, but it does provide a lot of useful and fascinating information and thoughts on moorland. As a geographer, I would have liked a map of each of the areas covered , to help put things into perspective. The author tended to sit on the fence on some of the big issues, like grouse moor shooting versus conservation, but perhaps that was so he could get an insiders view from the different camps. .As it states in the subtitle, , this book does cover "Lives, Landscape and Literature" relating to the distinct moors of different parts of England, and I did learn lots of interesting snippets. Having a few photos in each chapter would also have helped to bring the scene alive.
I am going to be based in a cottage in Alston next week, and look forward to getting to grips first hand with the mining heritage of this North Pennines area, which I am personally less familiar with than most of the other areas covered. After my initial doubts and frustration with this book, I have warmed to it , and it has left a lasting positive impression, after a rather slow start. It is not perfect, at times it drags a bit, but all credit to the author for putting the spotlight on a habitat that is important, but has often been rather overlooked. As a keen walker, the areas covered in this book have given me much satisfaction over many years, and this book has helped to pull a number of different threads together and increase my overall understanding of this fascinating upland landscape type.
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
Most recent customer reviews