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4.6 out of 5 stars
49
4.6 out of 5 stars


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on 6 August 2013
Had high expectations of this book from reading the early reviews. I think it excellent both for the text and photos. The breadth of coverage, the detail, the quality of writing and the expert opinion are all there. The structure of the book is very helpful in getting to a particular subject and then leads you further into the subject. Its focus being the relationship between birds and people, as the eponymous title flags up, makes it much more than a natural history volume, though there a lot of that there too plus folklore, history, culture and ecology. The author speaks plainly of the devastating impact on bird species of human depredations and , at times, it feels like an epitaph is being written as more and more species are dying off as habitat destruction, farming methods and poaching take their toll. This is a book to keep close at hand for continued use, not just as reference but for the pleasure of reading it too.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 23 February 2014
This is a really superb book.

While most books about birds focus on the birds themselves, the focus of this book is the importance of birds to humans.

Possibly because of the way in which many birds have adapted to living in proximity to humans, they are a rich source of tradition and folk law. This is strongly shown in this book.

Working systematically through the vast majority of bird families the book introduces the cultural importance of birds in both the modern and historical worlds. Clearly, such a book could never be completely comprehensive – but this book comes about as close to this as is needed.

A number of reviews here have complained about the size of the book (ie it’s too big) and the font of the text (ie its too small). While I can understand these comments, I think they miss the point of this book.

This is not a book that you are likely to read from cover to cover – you will have open next to you as you look up other things, or you will have it open on your lap as you browse through it. It is not a book to be read in the half-light of a bedside table – it’s a very readable reference book that you will come back to when you need to look something up, or you are looking for a way to pass half an hour.

This book is full of weird and wonderful facts (hopefully not factoids) about birds – and I challenge you not to laugh about the Kookaburra called Mama Cass!

Highly recommended.
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on 4 August 2013
This book arrived a few days ago and I have to admit that I have not read all the 400,000+ words, but I don't have to, to be able to tell you that this is a fantastic book.

It is a book to dip into for knowledge and pleasure. I have dipped into some of those places where I know something, to see what the author had to say, and haven't been disappointed. And when you dip, you will find that the next entry keeps your attention and makes you keep reading with pleasure. Hours can pass in this way if you aren't strict about rationing yourself.

You can spend a lot of time just looking at the pictures - and you shouldn't feel bad about that. David Tipling's photographs add a lot to a marvellous book.

This book will not go on my bookshelf - it will move around the house with me so that I can dip and sample and taste and peruse. It should have been published when the days are shorter, the nights are longer and an open fire is welcoming. At the moment it is too great a distraction from going out looking at birds and butterflies.

I have, even with only little sips of the oceans of knowledge contained within these pages, learned quite a few things. Did you know about the chalk kiwi at Bulford - I didn't and I was surprised that I didn't? I knew a little of the Yawar festivals of the Andes, and the roles of condors and bulls, but I was glad to learn more.

Mark Cocker is a friend of mine and his conversation is laced with the knowledge and anecdotes that make this book so enjoyable. I believe him when he writes that it would be possible to write twenty times as much as is contained within these pages. I'd love to see the accounts that had to be excised for this book to be manageable. I'd love to see a second volume in a few years time.

At the Amazon price it is phenomenal value for money - cheaper per page than almost any bird book I know - and so valuable in terms of giving more pleasure per page than most bird books I know.

Birds and People by Mark Cocker is published by Jonathan Cape and is available on Amazon as is Mark Avery's book Fighting for Birds.
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on 24 August 2013
I read a sparkling review of this work in The Telegraph and as I already have Birds Britannica by Cocker thought it should be on my to do list.

So when Amazon offered it for £24.80 I bit the bullet and not a moment of regret. If you are not that bothered about birds this book will change your thoughts. If you (like me) are a keen word botcher then this book will add to your passion.

It is a beautiful volume, nae tome - to be dipped into rather than read from cover to cover.

It is a book I will be giving as Christmas presents..
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VINE VOICEon 20 September 2013
This book would have made a present for two friends if it wasn't for the tiny print. It is stunning. If only they had taken the route of a double volume with sensible sized font.As I can only read it in small doses early in the day, it takes some of the pleasure away. I don't need glasses, and am not a pensioner, so I'm surprised the RSPB with many pensioner supporters would not have considered them.
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on 2 October 2013
There are 10,500 species of bird worldwide, and throughout history wherever birds and humans coexist we have marvelled at their beautiful plumage and been entranced by their haunting songs, so much so that birds are embedded in our religions, folklore and arts (one species even has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, thanks to Woody Woodpecker).

But birds have also served a more practical purpose, whether for food or using their feathers for decoration. Author and naturalist Mark Cocker has undertaken the mammoth task of documenting this relationship between birds and humankind. His authoritative yet readable text is interspersed with contributions from more than 650 individuals (ranging from university professors to tribal peoples) in over eighty countries, and is accompanied by David Tipling's stunning photographs, in what must be the definitive book on the subject.

This is a bird book where the focus is on birds' wider historical and cultural significance ("a source book on why we cherish birds," Mark calls it), and shows why humankind needs to concern itself with the conservation of other species: "A world without birds would lay waste to the human heart."
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on 14 October 2013
What sets `Birds and People' apart is that it gives the full story, no matter how unpalatable it may be. The result is truth and a beauty made all the more precious by our impassioned response to those bird species that are in decline.
Then there is the past.

Take the fate of the Eskimo Curlew. On the plains of Nebraska in the early 1900's, the quantity of hunted, shot and heaped birds was described by one eyewitness as being "as large as a couple of tons of coal". The bodies were left to rot, the hunters lacking the inclination or the wherewithal to transport the birds to market, the attitude being that there were plenty more where they had come from. That together with habitat loss led to its extinction.

There is also hope and humour and the most wonderful photographs throughout.
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on 11 October 2013
This is a fantastic book, as stated by a previous reviewer the print is quite small, this I think add's to the whole experience of this book, it will take a long time to read as the book contains 592 pages, it's very heavy and is packed with wonderful photographs.
It is a credit to Mark Cocker and David Tipling and will be a worthy companion as we head into winter!!
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on 27 August 2013
I was not sure what to expect but this fabulous book did not disappoint. Not only is every chapter fascinating especially to a keen birder like me, but the photos and other illustrations are superb and definitely add to the overall quality of the book. I would thoroughly recommend this volume to anyone with even a slight interest in birds or nature in general and our relationship with it.

Julian White, Norwich, UK.
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on 10 October 2013
A book to last a life time.So much to delve into here.Perfect for the coffee table to read another gem or take in the beautiful photographs.Well worth the money.Books like this do not come round that often, very pleased to have it.
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