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The Shepherd's Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape Hardcover – Deckle Edge, May 12, 2015
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“Captivating... A book about continuity and roots and a sense of belonging in an age that's increasingly about mobility and self-invention. Hugely compelling” ―Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“It's bloody marvelous.” ―Helen Macdonald, New York Times bestselling author of H IS FOR HAWK
““Rebanks’s family has farmed sheep in the hills of the lake District, in northwestern England, for some six centuries. The work, detailed lovingly in this memoir, has changed little… Rebanks is concerned with the survival of the landscape, of the life that it has fostered, and of its inhabitants’ view of the world.”” ―The New Yorker
“James Rebanks's unsentimental, sharply detailed memoir about his life as a shepherd in England's Lake District gripped me from the first page.” ―The Wall Street Journal
"James Rebanks’s “The Shepherd’s Life” stands in blissful earthbound contrast. Farming the high fells of the Lake District, the first son of a shepherd, who was himself the first son of a shepherd, Mr. Rebanks writes with loving eloquence about a kind of deep-rooted life that is all but lost in the developed world. Herdwick sheep, the local breed, are set free to graze on unfenced commons and could head off to Scotland were they not “hefted”―tied to their home range by invisible bonds of instinct and inheritance. Mr. Rebanks is himself hefted to his land and deftly conveys the worth and beauty of such a connection." - Geraldine Brooks
“A gorgeous book, unsentimental but exultant, vivid and profound, and a fierce defense of small-scale farming against the twin threats of agribusiness and tourism.” ―National Geographic
“A powerful - and quietly electrifying - meditation on the gruelling truth of rural life... Rebanks' prose is beautifully sure-footed.” ―The Sunday Times (UK)
“Rebanks' enthusiasm and talent for poetic writing is infectious... [His] words create not only a gorgeous landscape painting of the Lake District and its inhabitants, human, animal, bird and fish, but also a useful social document... What is most striking about this book is its authenticity; this is the real thing.” ―The Times (UK)
“Beautifully written” ―Alan Cumming, New York Times Bestselling author of NOT MY FATHER'S SON
“May well do for sheep what Helen Macdonald did for hawks.” ―The Guardian (UK)
“Superstar Shepherd.” ―The Daily Mail (UK)
“Affectionate, evocative, illuminating. A story of survival - of a flock, a landscape and a disappearing way of life. I love this book” ―Nigel Slater, author of the internationally bestselling Toast: The Story of a Boy’s Hunger and Tender
“Rebanks writes about his native Lake District with a loving eye for its past and present, its working denizens--humans, dogs, sheep--who continue to shape our picture of what Pastoralism is.” ―Brad Kessler, author of Goat Song
“The Shepherd's Life weaves together the human history of the farmers with factual history of the farms, the spiritual pull of the land with the physical demands it makes, the cruelty and beauty, optimism and pragmatism of the most beautiful corner of the world. A vivid, honest, unforgettably written account not just of one shepherd's year, but of an ancient way of life.” ―Lucy Dillon, author of LOST DOGS and LONELY HEARTS
“THE SHEPHERD'S LIFE is a reader's delight. Rebanks lives, breathes, and works his landscape - which gives him an inside edge as sharp as shears over most of the flock of current countryside writers. He has written a marvelous autobiography - of himself, his family, and the hills themselves.” ―John Lewis-Stempel, author of MEADOWLAND and YOUNG JAMES HERRIOT: THE MAKING OF THE WORLD'S MOST FAMOUS VET
About the Author
James Rebanks runs a family-owned farm in the Lake District in northern England. A graduate of Oxford University, James works as an expert advisor to UNESCO on sustainable tourism. He uses his popular Twitter feed - @herdyshepherd1 - to share updates on the shepherding year. The Shepherd's Life is his first book.
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Along the way, you get insight into the author’s personal journey, as part of a multigenerational sheep farming family and community, who ultimately finds a balance between ancient and modern ways of life, and his personal and familial interests. The writer also strikes a balance between the everyday language and conversational tone he uses to describe the sheep farmer’s life, while sharing deeply personal feelings and insights about the strong connections he feels to this land and lifestyle and his place in it, resulting in moments of pure poetry.
Wordsworth, who made this landscape famous in his poetry about the Lake District in northwest England, and Beatrix Potter, who bought and donated thousands of acres including her own sheep farm to a national trust, would be proud. A deeply satisfying life for those who persist in it, which yields much knowledge about both human and animal natures, and sheep farming techniques, and a satisfying read for those with the curiosity to understand.
He returned to the life he knew and loved--but you can't really make a living at that. That is, unless you have a town job. In Rebanks case he became a blogger and a writer--also a consultant with the UN on marginal indigenous farmers, and how to preserve those agricultural communities.
He's an interesting writer, and the book itself is interesting.