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Feral: Rewilding the Land, the Sea, and Human Life Paperback – April 26, 2017
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About the Author
- Item Weight : 1 pounds
- Paperback : 344 pages
- ISBN-10 : 022632527X
- ISBN-13 : 978-0226325279
- Dimensions : 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
- Publisher : University of Chicago Press; Reprint edition (April 26, 2017)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #484,077 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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imprisonment in absentia in Indonesia, being shot at, beaten up by military police, shipwrecked, stung into a poisoned
coma by hornets, and pronounced clinically dead with cerebral malaria. Sounds like an interesting guy, right?
This investigative journalist, himself a Zoology graduate of Oxford and now a regular columnist for The Guardian, is both subversive and intrepid.
He does his research carefully, and reading his prose is like taking a hike up a mountain on a clear crisp autumn day--beautiful and exhilarating. Monbiot's description of the birds as he goes mackerel fishing in a kayak will win your heart at the same time as it makes your pulse race. The natural history he describes is predominantly British. You will not agree with everything he says. You might not vote for wolves in Wales. Of course where you live may not be "sheepwrecked" Scotland where the Caledonian forest has been replaced by moors which are in fact heather and bracken barrens. Clearly this man is a good storyteller, but he is also thought provoking in the very best way. Read this book if you want to form realistic opinions on the state of our current ecosystems -think native species, reclamation ecology,etc.--and if you care about tomorrow's world.
Dragging us through the devastated landscapes and misguided environmental policies of Europe - including Great Britain - and of industries, he describes his personal adventures and frustrations on a quest to find examples anywhere of the power of nature to regenerate itself. His voice is a cry in the wilderness for a more enlightened sense of responsibility and careful stewardship of planetary health.
His plea is passionate and personal almost to a fault but his sarcastic humor and barely concealed indictment of political idiocy make a good and sometimes fascinatingly insightful and enlightening read. I gave it only 3 stars because I finished it feeling more despair than hope. Thankfully, there are stronger, more positive voices on the subject.
Top reviews from other countries
2. He makes a very strong argument for rewilding, for "stepping back" to let nature recover the initiative in *some* of the spaces now under human control. He shows very clearly how this is different from "conservation" of ecosystems in their degraded state, such as the "sheepwrecked" hills of Britain. But he also describes many wrong ways of going about it -- some morally wrong and some just impractical.
3. He makes a good case that a preference for wild spaces over domesticated or degraded environments is natural among humans, but that our perception of what's "natural" in a landscape has been warped along with the landscape itself. He calls this the Shifting Baseline Syndrome, and to give us a less myopic perspective, gleans some surprising facts about our distant past from the science of paleoecology.
4. He freely admits that his personal battle against "ecological boredom" is his main motivation for promoting rewilding. But with his usual meticulous research, he gives plenty of solid evidence that it's a good idea not only ecologically and psychologically but economically as well.
5. He deals fairly with the objections to rewilding and clears up some misconceptions about it.
In short, Monbiot does as good a job with rewilding here as he did with climate change in Heat: How to Stop the Planet From Burning . But this time it's a more "positive environmentalism."
However, if you think that the Harper government has done a good job of caring for the environment, you definitely won't like this book (unless it changes your mind). His introduction to this edition describes the Canadian situation as "one of the world's most sophisticated and beautiful nations being ransacked by barbarians," telling us that "in many places your complex and fascinating ecosystems are being reduced to near-deserts of the kind with which we are familiar in Europe." Part of his purpose in this book is to reverse that trend, not only in Britain but in the rest of the world as well.
He also describes the artificial nature preserves which actually represent a countryside already robbed of its biodiversity so that all it represents is nature changed to suit mankind's economic needs. The most obvious example is continued overgrazing my sheep in areas of Wales and Scotland, which transforms marginal areas into near-deserts that bear no resemblance whatsoever to natural environments. (My addition: In Germany we call transformed areas, such as the Lüneburg Heath 'Landscapes altered by culture', but not wildernesses, which is far different to British appellations.)
The book is a passionate appeal to policy-makers and to the population itself to work towards re-establishing biodiversity wherever feasible, for the sake of us all. Whoever is interested in this topic will find this book a true page-turner, easily read in spite of some scientific terminology.