- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: Picador; F First Edition edition (April 28, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1250065887
- ISBN-13: 978-1250065889
- Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 33 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #782,942 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Buzz in the Meadow: The Natural History of a French Farm Hardcover – April 28, 2015
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“In A Buzz in the Meadow: The Natural History of a French Farm, his delightfully sunny and fascinating follow-up to A Sting in the Tale, he takes inquisitive travelers and science enthusiasts alike on a tour through his meadow and rural French home-from the dirt up.” ―The New York Times Book Review
“An engrossing and surprisingly endearing book. If [Goulson's] delightful narrative doesn't cure your entomophobia, nothing will.” ―The New York Times Book Review (special issue)
“[Goulson] woos readers with a personable tale of his well-intentioned (and sometimes bumbling) mission to create a natural environment for wildlife on a derelict plot of French land....VERDICT: A strong voice in the canon of environmental writings, a call to action, and a relatable narrative combine in this highly recommended text.” ―Library Journal (starred review)
“An artful blend of E.O. Wilson and Barry Lopez, with a continental flair. Backyard naturalists, regardless of their locale, will delight in the amiable company of this witty and thoughtful guide.” ―Booklist
“A charming but serious warning of the need to protect our natural ecosystems from heedless, irreversible destruction.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“Professor Goulson is a most amusing writer, which makes the times when he is being minatory all the more striking. His comic technique is the deftly inserted word....It is laughter, or rather the joy of life that is expressed by laughter, that knits A Buzz in the Meadow together.” ―The Guardian (London)
“Warm and delightful: I frequently found myself wanting to put it down to go bird and bee watching, to find for myself the species [Goulson] discusses.” ―NPR on A Sting in the Tale
“A Sting in the Tale is both a whodunit as well as a revealing study of a bug on whom we depend a great deal.” ―The Seattle Times on A Sting in the Tale
“Goulson transforms what could be dry material with stinging wit.” ―New York Post on A Sting in the Tale
“Much more than a series of romantic wildlife walks. [Goulson] is adept at weaving profound biological concepts in with accounts of nearly being shot off the root by a zealous French huntswoman or decoding the head-banging knocks of deathwatch beatles....A trove of elegant and fascinating ecological tales” ―BBC Wildlife
“A wonderfully entertaining one-man campaign to persuade the world to love his favourite animals--insects....A Buzz in the Meadow feels like a cross between Peter Mayle's stories of homemaking in Provence and Gerald Durrell's works of domestic mayhem among Greek wildlife. Goulson has a similar comic gift to both, but although he may choose to play it for laughs, he is the cleverest fool you could imagine....A blend of scientific evidence and amusing travelogue that engages the reader as much with the eloquence of its argument as with the charm of its good humour.” ―The Mail on Sunday (London)
“You can't help but be charmed by the intriguing stories of paper moths, spotted butterflies and mating praying mantises.” ―The Big Issue (London)
“Goulson writes with infectious enthusiasm....His passionate interest in and defence of the planet's smallest inhabitants makes the book a lively and important read.” ―The Sunday Times (London)
“Goulson's sheer enthusiasm for wild things, from the lizards, mice and spiders that share his home to minute tardigrades or 'water ears' that wriggle in damp moss cushions, is that of a young Gerald Durrell on Corfu....He engages his readers in clear, lively language, avoids jargon and presents his thesis with a smile, not doom and gloom.” ―The Spectator (London)
“What begins as a scientfici rural idyll becomes a journey into the imperilled territory of Rachel Caron's Silent Spring.” ―Nature
“[Dave Goulson] is among the brightest things in the recent flowering of composite works of nature writing, natural history and memoir.” ―The Observer (London)
About the Author
DAVE GOULSON studied biology at Oxford University and is now a professor of biological sciences at the University of Stirling. He founded the Bumblebee Conservation Trust in 2006, whose groundbreaking conservation work earned him the Heritage Lottery Award for Best Environmental Project and "Social Innovator of the Year" from the Biology and Biotechnology Research Council. His previous book, A Sting in the Tale, was a Seattle Times Best Book of the Year, and shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize.
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The book is actually two books in one. The first half contains a great deal of natural history in the context of the farm, and the second half is more a strong call for better understanding and better relationship with the planet, and includes such themes as the importance of biodiversity and the grave difficulty of generating change in the way we humans do things. I strongly agree with what he writes but not all readers may see the urgency.
The writing is excellent. The species are European, which American readers like me may not recognize, and he's got some British usages in words and style, although no real problem arises from that. Funding for British research and the organization of universities may also be a little strange (it was for me). Some photos would be helpful and maybe a map. The description of the old farm and its buildings got me very curious about what they actually look like.
Two chapters stood out for me. Chapter 8 is on the death watch beetle, which infests his farmhouse--they can riddle wooden beams but it may take them a few centuries. And chapter 13 on disappearing bees is enlightening. It describes examining the impact of neonics--neonicotinoid chemicals used on pests. His research showed that the impact likely is an accumulation of low levels of chemicals disorienting bees and inhibiting their learning (sounds odd but explained fully).They published a report that drew a lot of attention and was almost immediately targeted by manufacturers with the result that the pesticide practices continue and the decline of bees (many many species) continues. So Chapter 13 is a case study in important research countered so as to prevent needed changes.
Goulson manages to remain optimistic, somehow. Maybe it's the wine and cheese he says he loves, maybe it's that the French are not as rapidly altering the countryside (same population as the UK but more than twice the space).