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on 24 July 2016
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.
7 people found this helpful
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on 5 May 2017
This is a book - well, books - with the most wonderful descriptions, but it is intense reading and I found it easier to dip in and out than to try to read right through. The introductions are very interesting too, and the diaries are perhaps useful pointers as to how someone with a similar love of nature and birds could keep a record of their experience. Recommended.
3 people found this helpful
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on 20 March 2014
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
10 people found this helpful
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on 18 July 2017
One of my favourite books ever. Loved it so much that I did not read the last couple of pages because I did not want it to end.
2 people found this helpful
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on 6 July 2016
Hard to describe this book, which is ironic as the descriptiveness it contains is like little else i've read. A wonderful book in itself but also a useful reference for the art of visualisation. As a lighting cameraman this book provides great inspiration to work harder at translating thoughts and mood into a visual interpretation.
2 people found this helpful
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on 14 October 2013
Click buy, now! An utter timeless masterpiece. I read it year round. The language is unpretensious but alive with colour, metaphor and sound - and often very, very moving. Baker is a demi-god of letters. I often savour a passage for hours before moving on. 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.'
63 people found this helpful
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on 30 May 2018
Bought for a present and he was delighted with it.
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on 4 July 2013
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.
2 people found this helpful
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on 30 May 2015
This book is an incite into both peregrines and the author and shows the dedication to the art of bird watching which boarders on obsession. I feel I understand him as I am the same with Otters, but I could not write about it.
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on 15 June 2017
Excellent copy and prompt delivery
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