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Feral: Searching for Enchantment on the Frontiers of Rewilding Hardcover – January 1, 2013

4.3 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 317 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (January 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846147484
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846147487
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #295,019 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By FictionFan TOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 5, 2013
Format: Hardcover
In the past few years, I feel I have been observing a welcome note of commonsense and even optimism creeping into the arguments of some of our leading environmentalists. In this book Monbiot, while proposing ambitious and doubtless controversial ideas, confirms that impression.

Feral is his story of why and how he has come to believe that the future for nature conservancy is to stop conserving - to sit back, release the brakes and go on a wild ride with nature in the driving seat. He calls this process 'rewilding'.

'Rewilding recognises that nature consists not just of a collection of species but also of their ever-shifting relationships with each other and with the physical environment. It understands that to keep an ecosystem in a state of arrested development, to preserve it as if it were a jar of pickles, is to protect something which bears little relationship to the natural world.'

He scared me in the first couple of chapters. It seemed as if he had turned into a mini-Welsh version of Crocodile Dundee (Grass-snake Aberystwyth?) as he regaled us with tales of tracking and killing his prey with his bare hands and then eating it raw - it was a mackerel! When he set out to harpoon flounders with a trident, I genuinely thought he'd lost it; and when he became mushily sentimental over initiation rites for an African tribesman that involved tormenting and killing a lion, I nearly gave up on him.

However, the point that he then went on to make eloquently and convincingly is that humanity has lost something precious by its disconnect with the wild world and that we in the UK have taken that disconnect to further extremes than most.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Beneath the pavement in London, archaeologists have found the bones of hippos, elephants, giant deer, giant aurochs, and lions. The Thames watershed was once a gorgeous, thriving, wild paradise. In the early Mesolithic, the western seaboard of Europe, from Scotland to Spain, was covered by a magnificent rainforest. Europe was once a thriving wild paradise.

Evolution created utterly fantastic masterpieces. The megafauna of the Americas grew to enormous size, in the absence of too-clever two-legged tool addicts. Ground sloths weighed as much as elephants. Beavers were the size of bears. The Argentine roc had a 26-foot wingspan (8 m). All of them vanished between 15,000 and 10,000 years ago, about the time you-know-who arrived, with their state of the art hunting technology.

On a damp gray dawn, the English writer George Monbiot woke up screaming once again. He suffers from a chronic spiritual disease that he calls ecological boredom. Living amidst endless crowds of two-legged strangers can become unbearably unpleasant for sensitive people with minds. Human souls can only thrive in unmolested wildness (the opposite of England). He leaped out of bed, packed his things, and moved to the coast of Wales, where there was more grass than concrete. He hoped that this would exorcise his demons.

They weren't demons. Obviously, ecological boredom is a healthy and intelligent response to the fierce madness of twenty-first century life, and it's curable. What's needed to break this curse is a holy ceremony called rewilding. During five years of country living in Wales, Monbiot wrote Feral, to explain his voyage and vision. It's a 500-decibel alarm clock.

Humans were wild animals for millions of years.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
At first I wondered why there was no US edition of this book, but I soon found out by reading the book. It is very much directed at the ecological and political realities of the UK. It makes one glad to live in the US, where at least we have some wilderness to preserve.

What I liked best about the book was that Monbiot didn't fall into a number of intellectual traps which wilderness-oriented folks often fall into. He did a good job of addressing possible criticisms of his point of view, even to the extent of meeting personally with an opponent and presenting the opponent's views with a lot of sympathy. If all controversial positions were put forward with as much caution and qualification as Monbiot lavishes on his position in <i>Feral</i>, we could look forward to better resolutions to all sorts of important contemporary issues.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is a well written polemic aimed at building support for a relatively novel approach to conservation - so-called rewilding. Many readers will probably know Monbiot from his columns in the British newspaper The Guardian and this book is an expansion of arguments appearing repeatedly in his columns. Monbiot's arguments are relatively straightforward. He argues for a substantial value of human encounters with actual wilderness. This is primarily an argument for psychological benefits of such experiences. While this is clearly something profoundly important to Monbiot personally, Monbiot makes a reasonable argument for a general human need for wilderness experiences. Monbiot also introduces some credible secondary and tertiary arguments for wilderness including enhanced sustainability of important ecosystem resources and some pragmatic economic benefits. Re-wilding in Monbiot's discussions means recovery of complete, complex ecosystems including multiple trophic levels and considerable biological diversity. Monbiot correctly distinguishes re-wilding from usual conservation measures. As he points out repeatedly, a major recent discovery is the realization that what is usually thought of as "natural" ecosystems are actually systems impoverished by significant prior human actions, some, such as the forest clearances of early European farmers, dating back millenia. Monbiot favors either allowing some landscapes to recover to more complex ecosystems via removing human interference or actual engineering of complex ecosystems by introduction or re-introduction of keystone species and top predators. Monbiot's proposals are more modest than those of some re-wilding advocates such as proposals to recreate Pleistocene ecosystem in North America or the Mammoth Steppe of Siberia.Read more ›
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