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The Peregrine Paperback – 9 Jun 2011

4.8 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Collins (9 Jun. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007395906
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007395903
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3.3 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 306,215 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

‘…an inspiring example to future writers, and a gift to lovers of nature.’
The Times Literary Supplement

‘… a literary masterpiece, one of the 20th century’s outstanding examples of nature writing.’
Independent

‘The Peregrine should be known as one of the finest works on nature ever written'
BBC Wildlife

‘… some of the most marvellous prose of the twentieth century.’
Literary Review

‘A tour de force … what can I do except praise writing which involves all the senses? This book goes altogether outside the bird-book into literature.’
The Sunday Times

‘A rapt and remarkable book … his phrases have a magnesium-flare intensity.’
Observer

‘… what is certain is that The Peregrine is the most precise and poetic account of a bird – possibly of any non-human creature – ever written in English prose.’
The Daily Telegraph

‘J. A. Baker's poetic prose has a hard intensity and an exquisite lyric grace that takes it far beyond the stereotypical stuff of larks ascending and questing voles. Cruelly beautiful and brutally exact, it sees the countryside anew to give us nature in the wild and in the raw.’
The Scotsman

‘Including original diaries from which The Peregrine was written and its companion volume, The Hill of Summer, this is a beautiful compendium of lyrical nature writing at its absolute best […]. For those with an interest in the Peregrine Falcon or classic natural history writing. ‘
The Guardian

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Click buy, now! Why? Let this extract speak for itself. I know there are many passages concerning the eponymous and majestic Peregrine but this is a good example of how Baker can transform the mundane to something quite profound and revelatory:

'At midday I saw a fox, far out on the saltings, leaping and splashing through the incoming tide. On drier ground he walked; his fur was sleek and dark with wetness, his brush limp and dripping. He shook himself like a dog, sniffed the air, and trotted towards the sea-wall. Suddenly he stopped. Looking through binoculars, I saw the small pupils of his eyes contract and dilate in their white-flecked yellow irises. Eyes savagely alive, light smouldering within, yet glitteringly opaque as jewels. Their unchanging glare was fixed upon me as the fox walked slowly forward. When he stopped again, he was only ten yards away, and I lowered the binoculars. He stood there for more than a minute, trying to understand me with his nose and ears, watching me with his baffled, barbaric eyes. Then the breeze conveyed my fetid human smell, and the beautiful roan coloured savage became a hunted fox again, ducking and darting away, streaming over the sea-wall and across the long green fields beyond.'
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By Stewart M TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 24 Mar. 2011
Format: Hardcover
This book - which is really two books and a set of diary entries - posses a number of issues for the reader.

Firstly, you have to come to grips with the density of observation that is packed into each page. If you persist in the belief that the books are "literally" true - i.e. all that is recorded was seen in a single winter - then you may struggle with this. However, if you give the author the latitude to compress 10 years into a single one for the sake of narrative then you will have no problems.

Secondly, if you are anything like me, you will have to dedicate more time to this book then you expect. It is so beautifully written that you will want to tarry over many of the sentences and turns of phrase. The two books - `The Peregrine' and `The Hills of Summer' run to a little over 265 pages of smallish type. Time and again I found myself going back a few pages to re-read sections.

The third issue you may have to deal with is downright jealousy at the things the author saw and his ability to describe them. His ability to describe what he sees is remarkable.

Some people have challenged the authenticity of some of the things that are recorded in this book - Peregrines hovering and feeding on worms are examples of observations that have been challenged - but that does not detract from the elegance of the prose or the sense of place that he manages to generate.

The addition of the diaries to his published work is beneficial in two ways. Its gives the reader a greater window into the way Baker viewed the world, but it also shows that the published books are not simple fragmented chronological (The Peregrine) or habitat based (The Hills of Summer) accounts.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
In 1967 when I was 13 I read this book and it changed my life. I now read it once a year. I have various hard copies and now I have the kindle version. I would recommend it highly. If you are not that interested in scientific side of birds miss out the first chapter and go straight to the diary its like one huge long poetic work.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Quite literally one of the greatest books ever written. Singular, vivid, wild and unsettling. Whether you like nature writing or not, if you like writing you will love The Peregrine
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Format: Hardcover
'The Peregrine' has become something of a landmark book for me. When I was young (like 10 - 16) I had a real obsession with birds, and in particular birds of prey. This book does not just describe the bird and it's world - but reveals something of that feeling of wanting to enter it which anyone who has loved birds will know.

Recently I've picked up the binoculars and headed out into the countryside again - this book is largely responsible for that, and I think it must be the best nature writing which can rekindle that love of wild things.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love this book. I purchased it after reading the reviews for it and after watching a BBC programme about Essex and it's wildlife which mentioned this book. Being an Essex native and proud of it! I had to buy this and have not been dissapointed. Beautifully written.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The Peregrine is a superb book, having read the book previously in paperback I was keen to re-read it on Kindle. Unfortunately the ebook has numerous very irritating typos which spoil the poetry and flow of this book. It was not cheap and I am disappointed in this lazy editing. Would recommend you read this book in print.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I loved this book - it is so beautifully written. I was lulled the whole way through by its gentle rhythms and lyrical descriptions, so that reading it felt almost like a meditation. The natural setting John Baker is describing (the Essex countryside) reminded me of growing up in the 1960s when birds and insects were far more abundant than they seem to be nowadays. Despite the fact that the author's observations over 10 years have been concertinaed into one year, the sheer variety of the birds he mentions serves as a stark reminder of how much damage we are doing to the planet through the use of pesticides and chemicals.
I first heard about John Baker through the excerpts from "The Peregrine" in John Gray's book "The Silence of Animals" (in the chapter "Another Sunlight") and felt I had to buy it. John Gray notes that the book had been billed as a piece of nature writing, but that it is, in fact, more "radical": "'The Peregrine' is a tribute to the sense of freedom the bird evoked in Baker as he watched it in flight; but, more than that, the book is a record of the author's struggle to see the landscape in which he pursued the bird through the eyes of the bird itself".
With "The Peregrine" comes Baker's other masterpiece, "The Hill of Summer" - a more general description of nature divided up according to the summer months set in different locations. It is equally beautiful, with the author's sense of detachment from humanity being even more palpable.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough and it is a shame it is not better known.
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